Saturday, October 31, 2015

October goals - recap!

A whirlwind month as usual. ;-) How did I do on my goals?

  1. Complete 1000 minutes of cardio - Yes, m'am! Helped greatly by my vacation. I worked out *a lot* on my vacation, which carried me through a few very poor workout work weeks. Wrapped up with 1020 minutes of cardio. Most proud that I worked out at 2:00 am (no sleep) in Beijing, as soon as I got off my flight. Not because I'm a fitness lunatic, but because I was trying to adjust to the time zones. 
  2. Complete 10 strength workouts - You know it! Ditto the vacation. Finished up with 12 strength workouts. 
  3. Complete 4 stretching workouts - Woohoo! May be the very first time I've accomplished this goal. ;-) Finished the month with 7 stretching workouts - all but one (?) in Hawaii. 
  4. Lose 3 pounds - will be challenging with my vacation, but we will do it! - well, no. Sadly, you would think that the first three, combined with really not eating much in Beijing would do it. But, I remain at exactly the same place. So, didn't gain, which is good for a month with a one week vacation & a business trip. But, didn't lose anything either. 
  1. Stick to our October budget - We were over by $225. My wine purchases, combined with needing extra toiletries, and higher than average utilities. Not a huge amount, but need to keep things in check, with the holidays approaching!
  2. Finish our 2016 budget planning - 90% of the way there!
  3. Stick to our vacation budget while in Hawaii! - Yes, we were $51 over, so I consider this a major win!
  4. Continue working on my "40 week project!" - Yes! I've refined my budget a bit, and also found a few other funding sources, as well as continued to save!
  1. Work on 2016 family calendar & vacations - Yes, very much in progress!
  1. Continue to accept no more than one late night's worth of meetings/week - Achieved! For this month, at least. :-) 
  2. Eat lunch away from my desk 3x/week or more - I did this a few times, but not consistently. 
  3. Book my workouts on my calendar, & *stick with them*!! - Nope, although I did manage to balance things out by using my weekends & vacations. 
  1. Get together for a minimum of one social event with a friend - Yes! I had lunch with a friend who was in town, as well as dinner. 
  2. Sign up to volunteer at the boys school. - Yes! Volunteered today, in fact. :-) 

All in all, I'm considering October a pretty big success! How about you? How was your month? How did you do with your goals? 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Winding down October & work news

Wow, whirlwind of a month. It started out with a trip to Hawaii for our 10th anniversary (bliss!), then a bunch of craziness for a very last minute trip to Beijing. Then, Beijing, the jet lag, and now I'm back to feeling like myself. Just in time for November!

I do have one last (oh please, no more) international trips left before the end of the year. (Hello, Brazil!) But, it's the home stretch. Finally.

In big (for me at least ;-)) work news, I received a promotion at work. I've been at the company for exactly two years, and this was a pretty significant jump - as you get more senior, the promotions become more challenging. So, exciting news! M & I have discussed having champagne this weekend to celebrate. :-) I'll know more about the impact on my compensation (salary increase, higher bonus potential, etc) in about six weeks.

While the promotion is very exciting, & I'm happy that my hard work was recognized and rewarded, it doesn't change my plans to leave at the end of the school year. At the next level, the demands are even higher. But, it does do two things for me. 1) The pay will allow me to achieve & potentially exceed my financial goals for the end of the school year. 2) When I do leave my employer, I want it to be clear later (job searching, etc) that I left on my terms, on a high note, and that my performance was exceptional. Being able to demonstrate that I was promoted in a short period of time will make it much easier for me to find other work down the road.

I'm now off to go sort out Halloween costumes & decide what to make for dinner!

What about you? Are you looking forward to the start of a new month & looking ahead to November?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Weekly spending roundup (10/19-10/25/15)

I've been a bit irregular in our weekly spending write ups, but I find them very helpful as I evaluate how much we're spending, and on what. :-)

I was gone until Thursday, as context. All of my spending in Beijing is a work expense. As you can see, our expenses generally only happen on weekends. We get free lunches at work, and with our schedules, it's unusual for us to run errands during the week.

  • Monday - No spend day
  • Tuesday - No spend day
  • Wednesday - No spend day
  • Thursday - Fall soccer - $1670 (two kids)
  • Friday:
    • $10 - field trip for Nick
    • -$250 for a summer camp (soccer) that took me about 10 emails to eventually get back. But, better late than never! :-)
    • $63.15 - dinner out for our 10th anniversary!
  • Saturday:
    • $33.99 - Target (household items - face soap, etc)
    • $18.23 - birthday gift at Target
    • $46.84 - new shoes for Nick at Nordstrom Rack
    • $9.20 - oven cleaner and some other product I didn't catch before M put them away - Home Depot
    • $14.82 - produce stand. I got, wheat lavosh bread, radishes, a huge bag of Persian cucumbers, kale, and two papayas (for fruit smoothies). As always, a great deal.
    • $2.50 - orzo, at Lucky
    • $283.79 - wine, at Lucky. It's super rare to find my favorite wine at the grocery store, but when we do, we stock up. This will likely last us for six months or so. I buy very inexpensive wine ($7/bottle) for regular wine consumption. We keep the "fancy" wine for dinners out, special occasions, etc. A big splurge!
    • $155.27 - groceries at Costco
  • Sunday - No spend day

Total spend for the week = $2057.79. We most definitely need to do better next week! We pay the soccer expenses twice/year, so that's a rarity. And the wine *blush*. . . 

How about you? Do you track your weekly spending? 

Menu Plan Sunday

I usually spend Sundays getting ready for the week ahead, including planning my work schedule, adjusting the kid calendar/schedule, and creating an easy to make menu during the busy work week.

Here's what's on the menu for the week!

  • Sunday - M will be making beef kebabs & rice. Yum!
  • Monday - Leftover chicken rice pilaf. Amazing & one of my favorites. I follow the recipe, but substitute almonds for hazelnuts & then add chicken during the "resting" phase. 
  • Tuesday - Leftover kebabs & rice
  • Wednesday - Spaghetti & meatballs
  • Thursday - Late night, as both boys have goalie practice. So, likely pasta & baked chicken.
  • Friday - Any & all leftovers. If there are none, quesadillas for the kids, and salad topped with chicken for the adults
  • Saturday - It's Halloween, so something quick & easy before the fun starts. I'm thinking of tacos

Other than that, I'm going to pick up Sam from his sleepover, clean the fridge, and get my gym clothes sorted for next week. 

I made four batches of muffins yesterday (fresh cranberry & zucchini). Both look great! I need to still make the homemade pizzas for the freezer. I made the dough in the bread machine, but need to get it rolled out & topped, char baked & then frozen!

Also, my back is killing me from all of that travel, so I need to do yoga!

And that's it. What's on your menu for the week ahead? 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A get-things-done kind of day

We have no soccer this weekend, which is unheard of! :-) I'm going to enjoy this weekend to the fullest - no trips to pack for, no flights to catch. . . just time with my boys.

Last night we had our anniversary dinner (with the kids, of course :-)) & it was great. I planned ahead & brought our own wine (they don't charge a corkage fee), which saved quite a bit. It was still a bit of a splurge ($63 for dinner for four), but we kept things in check with the wine from home, plus ordering a few things to share from the appetizer menu. It was delicious -  Greek food - everyone's favorite!

Now I'm working on my to do list for the day. So far, I've been to Target to get a birthday gift for the party Sam is attending tonight. I'm also tackling the mountain of laundry that's sitting out.

I'd like to make muffins, make some homemade pizzas for the freezer, work out, and have some time leftover for reading. Doesn't that sound nice? The weather has cooled off, so it sounds like the perfect day to do some baking.

Nick, who will be home alone with mom & dad tonight (it's usually the opposite - Nick is the king of getting invited to sleepovers), has requested pasta & meatballs for dinner, with popcorn & a movie as his entertainment. We'll pop popcorn at home, and watch a movie we already have.

I also really need to sort out our Thanksgiving plan & menu (I'm on call, so we can't really "go" anywhere), as well as work on our Christmas budget & plan.

I hope you are all having a great weekend! What's one thing you'd like to do today?

Friday, October 23, 2015

It's Friday - jetlagged, but making progress

I got home from Beijing yesterday, so I'm feeling *very* jetlagged today. I started off my day by driving to the city (3.5 hours, with traffic) for an appointment with the Brazilian consulate, then to the office. I'd not recommend that as my first thing to do after a long trip. ;-)

Beijing was quite an experience, despite only being there for 72 hours. And now comes that catching up (with life & work) part. :-)

I'm so very, very happy it's Friday. I'm going to try & leave a bit early, so I can squeeze in some extra boy time. After that, M & I are going out to dinner with the boys (relatively unusual for us), so we can celebrate our 10th anniversary. Our 10th anniversary happened while I was in Beijing, but better late than never!

We have no soccer this weekend (shocking!), so I need to get things sorted out around the house. Here's what I'd like to (or need to, in some cases) accomplish:

  1. Buy a birthday gift for the party Sam's going to
  2. Sam's sleepover party on Saturday
  3. Go for a 3 mile run (Saturday)
  4. Go for a 5 mile walk (Sunday)
  5. Strength training & yoga (Saturday & Sunday)
  6. Laundry
  7. Catch up on budgeting
  8. Make muffins - the freezer is looking bare!
  9. Make dinners for the week
  10. Plan a menu
  11. Catch up on expense reporting
  12. Go through my work calendar & sort things out
  13. Update the soccer schedule, based on revised practice times
  14. Clean! The house is all cluttered & I need to clean my own areas & ensure the boys take care of their rooms.
In terms of my "40 week" project, here's where things stand. . .

My goal is to have 100K saved, as well as planning to save 45K for taxes, 15K for the 2016 travel fund, and to max out my 401K, before I leave my job. So, I need to have $160K, plus max out my 401K before June. 

Current savings = 103.9K, so 69% of my goal. I was able to add $3,000 to my savings this month, although things will get tight, as we have a bunch of upcoming expenses. Will see if I can leave most of it there. I was also greatly helped by an increase in stock price. My stock trading window opens again next week, which means I can realize some of that gain.

I added in the 401K goal, after I remembered that I used my January bonus last year to max out my 401K. Given that my return to the workforce is unknown at this point, I'd like to take this last chance to beef up my retirement before I quit. I've run the numbers, & I think I can still do all of the above - save $160K, and put $18,000 in my 401K. My retirement is in a very healthy place, but every bit helps!

That's it from my end. I'd like a nap now. :-) I hope all is well, and everyone has a nice, relaxing weekend planned!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

I'm off to Beijing tomorrow, and update on my "40 week plan"

In case you missed the first post on my 40 week plan, you can catch up here.

I have an early flight to Beijing tomorrow (my 6th international trip of the year, with one more on deck, in case anyone other than me is counting). ;-) This one involved copious amounts of time at the Chinese consulate in the city. SO, so many hours lost at the consulate. But, I'm cleared for takeoff tomorrow, supposedly. :-) We'll see once I get to the airport.

In big news, I'm about $700 short of having $100K saved for my big project. WOOHOO! I am so excited about this. :-) I'm making big progress on my plan to leave at the end of June. Honestly, the trip to Beijing & my upcoming trip to Sao Paulo, although painful, are just further motivation to keep all possible spending in check and save, save, save.

In other news, I have one child at a sleepover, one watching Harry Potter. I've made homemade pizzas, both boys won their soccer games (eldest scored two goals today), I've made muffins, packed for my trip, gone on a run, and generally just had a nice day.

Hope it was a great Saturday for everyone!!

Friday, October 16, 2015

I kind of forgot about my 2015 goals

I saw another blog post, and decided that maybe I should take a peek & see what I hoped to accomplish this year. And, maybe get a reality check? ;-)

  • Financial
    • Meet with a financial advisor - nope. Probably not going to happen. I have a very specific goal that we are working toward. 
    • Save $50,000 towards a downpayment for a house in California - we are not saving towards this goal, but we are well above this is our savings account. We're saving it for other things. 
    • Put $10,000 in the boys college accounts - we scaled this back, in light of other financial goals. We put $2500 in. 
    • Pay $55,000 towards our mortgage principal(s) - we're at $28K, so definitely not going to hit this. But, we're saving for me to leave my job. 
    • Save for our 2015 travel budget in advance - done. 
    • Stick to our monthly & yearly budgets - For our monthly budget, we are at 75% spent, with 79% of the year elapsed, so we are under our budget!!!  For the yearly budget, we are at 68% of budget (excluding taxes ;-))!!!!! 
    • Re-plan our yearly budget categories - Yes! I have two budgets - while I'm working, and after for 2016. This is both our yearly & monthly categories. 
  • Family
    • Look for more opportunities to have fun with the family. - I don't think I've done a terribly good job at this. We've done a lot of fun things, but we're also really busy and enjoy down time. 
    • Be more present with the kids. - eh? I'm pretty good until the later part of the evening, and then I'm so exhausted, I'm like a zombie. 
    • Come up with a five year plan that minimizes my need to work in my career (open to other work options). - Oh, yes! And, I've accelerated this to be June of 2016.
  • Fitness/health
    • Lose 10 pounds, bringing my weight to 135. If this goal sounds similar to last year's, that's because it is. I managed to lose 8 lbs, and then gained it back during the second half of the year. Sigh. - :-( That's all I'll say. I've gained 4 pounds. The traveling, jet lag, breaking of my routine does me no good. 
    • Run another half marathon. - I was supposed to run one this weekend, but I'm headed to Beijing. I will not be training for a half this year. I still have another week long trip. Not only are the trips an issue, I'm very jet lagged when I get back & have a hard time getting back into my routine. 
    • Track my food/exercise every day. - So far, yes. 
    • Complete 10,000 minutes of cardio - I'm at 70% complete, with 79% of the year elapsed, so I need to pick up the pace. 
    • Complete 100 strength workouts. - Yes! I'm already at 107 strength workouts!
    • Complete 75 stretching workouts. - Definitely no. I'm at 15. :-( 
  • Work/career
    • Keep better perspective at work/reduce stress. - I haven't reduced my stress, but I have a plan. :-) 
    • Reduce my hours. - definitely not. But, ditto above. 
  • Giving back
    • Figure out a way to volunteer. I'd like to volunteer at the boy's school, as it's important for me to be connected. But, the hours are terrible. I need to be a bit more creative about options. - I've volunteered twice this year. So, some, but definitely not what I'd like. 
    • Increase our charitable giving by 25% - oh yes! We've doubled our charitable giving. 
  • House
    • Declutter each room in the house - yes! 
    • Clean out the garage - we did about half of it, before M threw it in the towel. Considering it took us 10 years to get to that, I'll take it. I'll keep the task, because we have more work to do.
  • Personal/creative
    • Have one date night with M per month - yes!
    • Learn a new skill. I'm thinking of learning a new language, but would be fine with anything: sewing, knitting, expanding my baking, etc. - I haven't done any of this. I forgot about this goal, to be totally honest.
    • Make time for my friends! Do something social at least once per month. - I've done something most months, so I'll give myself a .75
    • Read 50 books. - I've definitely read more than 50 books!

Looking at this, I can definitely figure out where I haven't spent my time this year (cough *my health & fitness*). It's so good to check in & remember what I still have to do, with just 2.5 months to go. What about you? Did you set goals for 2015? How are they going? 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

October - mid-month goal check

October is trucking along, so how are we doing on those goals?!

  1. Complete 1000 minutes of cardio - 670 minutes, thanks to my great (and fit!) vacation
  2. Complete 10 strength workouts - 5 workouts
  3. Complete 4 stretching workouts - 7! The most *ever* in a month
  4. Lose 3 pounds - will be challenging with my vacation, but we will do it! - hoping I can achieve this, but didn't lose anything on vacation
  1. Stick to our October budget - looks reasonably on track
  2. Finish our 2016 budget planning - not yet! A must do!
  3. Stick to our vacation budget while in Hawaii! - we were $51 over, so I'm counting this as a huge win!
  4. Continue working on my "40 week project!" - have added in some extra funding sources, but need to tighten up the plan & budget.
  1. Work on 2016 family calendar & vacations - yes! have been working on this, created the template calendar & need to solidify a few more dates.
  1. Continue to accept no more than one late night's worth of meetings/week - mostly looking good, but still a few areas of improvement
  2. Eat lunch away from my desk 3x/week or more - I haven't done this at work, but I ate my lunch by the pool in Hawaii? ;-) 
  3. Book my workouts on my calendar, & *stick with them*!! - mostly, yes! And, lots of bonus fitness on vacation.
  1. Get together for a minimum of one social event with a friend - I need to get something planned. October may be hard with traveling. 
  2. Sign up to volunteer at the boys school. - yes, although my schedule has been tricky & I've yet to actually make it. 

So far, I'd call this a success. More work to do, of course, but I feel like I'm on track for the month. How about you? How are your October goals going? 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Back from an amazing vacation

M & I went to Hawaii for our 10th anniversary, and had an absolutely amazing time! Seriously, it was wonderful & we had a perfect, relaxing time. Here's what we did!

  • Mountain biked down the volcano
  • Canoed, kayaked, & snorkeled. Saw some lovely sea turtles.
  • Played tennis. My first time in nearly 20 years.
  • Hung out by the pool & at the beach
  • Sunrise walks along the beach
  • Yoga - the hotel offered free classes
  • Water aerobics, barre class - again with the free classes. LOVED it!

We also just chilled out & spent time together, catching up on life, having happy hour, and generally enjoying life. It was the best. My parents were with the kids, and they had a great time as well. The boys love Nana & Papa time. :-)

And, in terms of our budget, we were over by $51.77, which is so close, I'll take it! Although I would not describe this as a "budget" vacation, we did have a budget & tried to stick to it by it. Here are a few ways we saved money:
  • We opted to have happy hour instead of dinner every night (much cheaper, and fit with our schedule anyway), and we actively researched inexpensive deals
  • Bought wine & snacks for our hotel room
  • Mostly ate breakfast & lunch with groceries we purchased (we ate out once for lunch & did a smoothie for breakfast)
  • Shared meals
  • Reduced our activities to just one (the one M most wanted to do -  sunrise on Haleakala, followed by the mountain biking)
  • Took advantage of lots of free activities at the hotel!

M surprised me by upgrading to first class on the return flight home, which is why we were very slightly over budget. It was a wonderful treat. :-) 

Here are some pictures of the fun!

Me, on one of our many sunrise hikes. . . 

Views from our lunch out. . . who can resist this amazing view?

Sunrise on the beach

Sunrise from the top of a volcano. The pictures don't do it justice - it was amazing!

The beach where we got married, ten years ago!

Now I'm back to reality, planning for two more complex international trips before the end of the year (for work), as well as getting my budget sorted out for 2016.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

September goals recap - how did I do?

Oh, September. You were quite a challenge. :-) We fired our nanny, scrambled to find another one, M was in Dubai for 9 days, I was in London for a week. . . it wasn't exactly a banner month for "getting things done". That said, I made the decision to embark on my "40 week project" (aka, quit my job at the end of the school year), which is easily the biggest decision I've made, career-wise. . . ever!

Here's how I did (or, rather, didn't, in some cases :-)) do on my goals!

    1. Complete 1000 minutes of cardio - oh my, oh my. I almost ended the month in the 300s. This was a VERY difficult month for me to get in workouts, as I was leaving early quite a bit to cover for our lack of nanny, then leaving early to train up a new nanny, then traveling. But, I pulled it together & ended the month with 525 minutes. Not great, but a huge improvement over where I thought I might be. 
    2. Complete 10 strength workouts - yes, managed to get in 11 workouts! I find that keeping my hand weights out & visible makes all of the difference. I need to start adding in some squats as well. Making it part of my daily routine is the secret.
    3. Complete 4 stretching workouts - Nope. One stretching workout.
    4. Lose 3 pound - I wish. I gained two pounds, so that's 5 pounds from where I wanted to be! :-( 
    1. Stick to our budget -not quite. We actually did pretty well on most categories, but a few things put a wrench in our plans. 1) I paid our old nanny a full week's worth to go away & never come back, as I didn't give her notice. 2) We had a day without school & I paid the new nanny to stay with the kids. 3) Our new nanny charges $2 more/hour, which adds up. All told, we were over by $275. We did great on all categories outside of childcare, including groceries!!! :-) Huge win there.
    2. Finish our 2016 budget planning - Still working on this, especially with my new "40 week" project. 
    3. Determine what to do with stock vest money - I have this answered! Save for when I leave my job. 
  1. Book all activities for Hawaii - Done!!!! 
  2. Continue thinking of mid/long term plans for Seattle house & our location - we'll continue this conversation, but focused right now on the end of the summer timing with my job.
  3. Build several options for me to consider taking time off/going part time - Yes! We're actively exploring this. 
  4. Work on 2016 family calendar & vacations - I have a calendar started, but I'm a long way away from a full picture of 2016.

  1. Take a work life balance class (funded through my employer) - done! And, signed up for a deeper version of this class in January.
  2. Continue to accept no more than one late night's worth of meetings/week - Yes :-) 
  3. Shorten all planned work travel - Yes, was able to shorten my London trip
  4. Find creative options to have my more senior staff cover additional travel - eh. I managed to have someone else cover India, Taipei & Tokyo/Seoul. I'm still on the hook for 1-2 trips to China + Brazil. 
  5. Eat lunch away from my desk 3x/week or more - I don't think I've been perfect at this, but *much* better. Probably a 75% success rate.
  6. Book my workouts on my calendar, & *stick with them*!! - Not for the first three weeks, but I managed three workouts this week so far!
  1. Get together for a minimum of one social event with a friend - Yes! I went to a hike/brunch & had a great time.
  2. Sign up to volunteer at the boys school. - Yes!

So, a bunch of mid-progress items, a few wins, and a few losses. Not too bad, considering the month I've had. I'll take it!  How about you? How have you done with your goals over the last month? And, happy October! Go set yourself some new, fantastic goals!