Thursday, February 20, 2014

Still here. Still overwhelmed.

TGIT! :-) Closing in on the weekend, at last.

I had a fabulous trip to visit my family last weekend (I took the boys to Portland, and we had a big family celebration for their birthdays).

Work is still exhausting, I'm still working too much, and we're evaluating all of our future options. At this point, my goal is to stay in my job until January 30th of next year. I don't know if I will make it that far. I have to stay in role for one year in order to not have to pay back my sign on bonus, and earn my first round of stock options. I will qualify for a bonus if I stay until January 30th. I keep telling myself, it's less than a year away. If I can hold out that long, it will give me more flexibility in the future, as I look at part-time options.

In terms of goals & spending & such - - I haven't been on top of the budget. At all. We spent a ton on the weekend in Portland. I need to use the weekend ahead to get back together with my long lost friend, the budget ;-) Oh, and my menu.

I hope you are all well, staying on track, and knocking those goals out of the park!!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

2014 is 10% over - Goal check

Can you believe it? It's true. 2014 is officially 10% over. How are you doing with your yearly goals? Are you 10% of the way there yet? I love checking in, ticking things off, and refocusing my energy on things that aren't on track.

Here are my 2014 goals, with a status check:

  1. Lose 10 pounds, bringing my weight to 135. I've really struggled to lose at my current weight & activity level, so I need to spend some time considering what's necessary to drop these last (very stubborn) 10 pounds. After my doctor's appointment & prescription complication, this goal is more important than ever. Time to focus.- I am not on track & have to really buckle down to achieve this. 
  2. Continue tracking my food and exercise every day in My Fitness Pal. This has been tremendously helpful. - On track! 
  3. Improve my fitness by doing the following:
    1. Complete 11,000 minutes of cardio. - I'm currently at 1,015, so just off of my target. 
    2. Complete 100 strength workouts. - On track! 12% of the way there. 
    3. Complete 75 stretching workouts. - Just at 10%, so on track!
      4. Choose a half marathon to train for, and complete it! Sometime this spring. - Not yet. Finding the race is a goal for February. 
      5. Have one date night per month with M. - On track! 1 for 12. :-) 
      6. Plan one social/friend activity per month - On track! 1 for 12. :-) 
      7. Finalize will/guardianship. - Half way done! I've ordered all of the paperwork. They just need to be signed & finalized. 
      8. Save $50,000 towards a downpayment for a house in California. - We've saved $1,000, so not on track. 
      9. Put $5,000 in boys college accounts. - We haven't saved anything, but hope to save $500 in February. 
      10. Pay $30,000 towards our mortgage principal(s). - We are on track! We've paid just over 10% of our yearly total
      11. Figure out a plan for vacation house. - Yes! It's listed and we've made all needed repairs. 
      12. Track our all of our spending, stick to our budget, and create monthly spending reports.- On track!
      13. Plan an adult only vacation with M! - Yes! This is happening in April. Can't wait.
      14. Likely most importantly, figure out the work/life balance, even if it means finding a new job. Money isn't worth the current schedule. - Somewhat on track. There are short term and longer term plans in the works. Not ready to roll them out (as we are still working through some big challenges, but they are on our radar.)

With the year 10% over, how are you doing on your 2014 goals? Anything going well, or needing improvement? 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

January Financial Recap - where did all the money go?

Each month, I attempt to recap how we spent our money, and categories where we were over or under.

Here are the highlights (& lowlights from January):

Income (note that this doesn't include retirement, charitable donations, or healthcare, all of which is deducted automatically before we ever see the money):
Standard pay - $21,700
Bonus pay - $8,400
Total income for January = $30,100

We were at or below spending targets in the following categories:

  • Boys (general bucket category) 
  • Boys clothes
  • Boys college
  • Boys lessons
  • Childcare (saved cash in December to pay for January's date night)
  • Cleaning (the cleaner was on vacation, so we cleaned & saved $180)
  • Gas
  • Gifts
  • Health
  • Insurance
  • My clothes
  • Rent
  • Liquor
  • Vacation mortgage
  • M's clothes
  • Personal
  • Seattle house utilities
Areas where we were over our spending:
  • Boys birthdays. Over by $7. Bought both boys a present (an organizer for their Rainbow Loom bands, which have taken over my house.) :-)
  • Car - over by $967. :-( Major repair needed on my car, which is 9 years old.
  • Dining out - over by $204, mostly due to my work trip. I had no idea I would have to pay for my own meals. Groan.
  • Dry cleaning - over by $19. We've primarily switched to Dryel, and had to restock our supply.
  • Entertainment - over by $90. We added this category for 2014, and ended up going on a day trip to Monterey. We'll balance this out by not doing anything similar in February.
  • Groceries - over by $15. So close!
  • House - over by $120. These were for our legal documents. Doesn't really belong in this category, but this is my "placeholder" category. ;-)
  • San Francisco utilities - over by $109. The insulation in this house sucks big time, and the windows don't even seal. On "cold" nights, the heat runs forever.
  • Vacation house utilities - over by $400. We have a yearly pay for a handyman/watch service that checks on our property weekly. Critical since we're not in the area.
  • Toiletries - over by $56. We were out of everything. Hopefully we're stocked up & can lower this substantially in the next few months.
  • Travel - over by $170. I purchased my mom's ticket to fly out and watch the boys in April.
  • Seattle house mortgage - over by $17,748. Not really. ;-) We transferred $15,000 from savings to our HELOC, to reduce our interest. Our December payment also cleared in January, so two payments cleared during the same month. 

In total, we spent $20,662 (removing the $15,000 transfer, as that's mostly just shuffling money around). Our planned expenses were $19,098, so we were over by $1,600. We average out all of our yearly totals, so there are some totals that don't make sense on a monthly scale. In general, the only anomaly that concerns me for our yearly budget is the car expense of $1167. That will definitely put a dent in our yearly budget. 

How did you do with your January spending? Are you on track? If not, how will you adjust your spending to get back on track? 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

January Goals - How did I do?

I was very ambitious with my January goals this month. ;-) Karma slapped me down for this and reminded me that things come up, and staying the course is sometimes the only option!

Here are my goals, and assessment of how I did:

  1. Lose 2 lbs. - I was off to a great start, and actually lost 2.5 pounds. Then, things fell apart & I'm down to a loss of only .5 lb. 
  2. Track my calories every day in MyFitnessPal. - Yes! I had a way too high calorie average of 1643 in January. My goal is 1500. 
  3. Complete 1,000 minutes of cardio.- I came very close, at 970. 
  4. Complete 10 strength workouts. - Yes! I did 12. 
  5. Complete 8 stretching workouts. - So close! I did 7. 
  6. Find a half marathon for the spring, and start the training plan. - Nope. I'm not read to start a training plan, and committed to not spend money on my health (race registration category) in January, so my goals weren't very well thought out. ;-) 
  7. Have one date night with M. - Yes, and it was great! 
  8. Plan/do one social activity with friends. - Yes! I had lunch with a friend, went to a speaker event with another friend, and went to a girls night activity. 
  9. Save $1,000 towards our California house down payment fund. - We actually diverted this money to paying down our HELOC on our Seattle house, as we can take the money out at any time, and the interest rate just went up. The money did go somewhere productive, so I'll take it. :-) 
  10. Save $500 in boys college fund. - No. we had an unexpected car repair bill, and had to divert the planned money. 
  11. Pay $3,000 towards our mortgage(s). We blew this one out of the water! We did actually achieve the goal with $3,807, and then also decided to funnel our cash of $15,000 to our HELOC. THe interest rate is higher than we'd like, and we can take the money out when we need it (at tax time, for example).
  12. Talk to my parents about potentially watching the boys for a 2014 vacation. - Yes! Done & booked. 
  13. Work is very, very crazy & the schedule is not something I can handle long term with my health situation. I'm currently working 60+ hours during the week, & I'm on call every day. Every holiday. Every weekend Everything. It's way too much. I need to start figuring out a plan. - Well, there's a short term and longer term plan in motion here. I've been very clear with my boss that I cannot stay long-term (or, even mid term) in these circumstance without appropriate staffing. This is a multi billion dollar business, so it's just really ridiculous where we're at. I've been clear about that. M & I are also very strongly considering our next steps, and if we want to be two-income dependent in the future. 

All told, it was a heck of a stressful month, and I survived, with pretty good results. :-) On to February!!!!! How did you do in January? Did you meet your goals? 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

It's that time of the week again. As my schedule gets busier, it's more important than ever to meal plan, inventory the freezer, and stay on track.

I'm embarrassed to confess that I had a really terrible shopping trip on Saturday. Normally, I follow all of the frugal "rules", and check my stores before I shop. Yeah, sadly not this week. I didn't do the majority of the cooking, due to late work nights, and made assumptions without checking my outside fridge (we have two). Oh my. I wasted a good $18-$20. I'll try to double up our consumption on some of those items, but there's only so much lettuce you can eat, or milk the boys can drink. ;-) It was a great reminder that being organized still needs to be top of mind. Sometimes, I take for granted that I'm all over what I need to do to be frugal, and then I do something like this.

  • Sunday - Lubia polo (for reals, this time. I've bumped it so many times!)
  • Monday - Leftover meatloaf & mashed potatoes
  • Tuesday - Tacos & homemade guacamole
  • Wednesday - leftover lubia polo
  • Thursday - Pasta with red pepper sauce (adults only on the sauce) + grilled chicken (freezer)
  • Friday - Leftover tacos
  • Saturday - Homemade pizza
  • Sunday - Oven baked chicken risotto with chicken, butternut squash, and goat cheese.
What about you? What's on your menu for the week? What frugal tips do you use when you shop & plan your menus? 

2011 Taxes, Anyone?

I'm so over this situation, I could just scream! Some of you may remember the following scenario: M left his employer (switched companies) in 2011. He received a bonus early on in 2011. Apparently, it wasn't a bonus, it was an advance that was mis-categorized. So, in mid-2012, we got notice that we needed to pay it back. It was $14K. We scrambled, & paid the employer back. Then, we had to refile our 2011 taxes. Oh, what a treat that was. I used Turbo Tax (the original source of my 2011 taxes) to update, and we received a $5K refund, as our re-stated income was lower.

I've been receiving notices from the IRS since early December that they audited this income reduction. At first, it was because M's employer hadn't submitted the revised W2 to the IRS. We had to track that down, which took about 10 hours of phone calls, & letter writing, & dealing with certified mail.

We received yet another notice from the IRS last week, and it turns out that, even though our income went down by $14K, we weren't really due a $5K refund, because that reduction in our income adjusted our overall tax rate, and we were now required to pay the AMT. And, we got penalties & fees on top of that, even though the IRS accepted our original revision, and provided us with a prompt refund. Their error. So, I now owe $5,250 back to the IRS. On top of a large amount owed for our 2013 taxes. We were relatively prepared for the 2013 taxes, but this? So frustrating!

This is like a bomb that won't stop exploding.

Ahhhhhhh, happy Monday. ;-) At least my team won the Super Bowl? Although, that was a shameful show by the Broncos. Go, Seahawks!! :-)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

February Goals - let's get it started!

February promises to be a better month than January. ;-) It's my birthday, we're going to visit my family, and my oldest is turning 8. Where has the time gone?!

Here are my goals for February. If you're curious about my 2014 goals, you can find them here.

  1. Lose 2 lbs. This is a must do, and will be tricky, since I'll be out of town, and there will be lots of celebrations. I need to stay focused & make every day count.
  2. Continue tracking my calories in My Fitness Pal.
  3. Improve my fitness by doing the following:
    1. 900 minutes of cardio (less than usual - a short month)
    2. 8 strength workouts.
    3. 6 stretching workouts.
  4. Decide on a half marathon.
  5. Have one date night with M.
  6. Build financial scenarios for the long term, considering all options for us (one income, two income, locations, etc).
  7. Finalize our legal documents that I finally ordered. I'm SO PROUD that I did this! :-)
  8. Put $500 in boys college accounts, as their birthday gifts.
  9. Save $1,000 for downpayment fund.
  10. Pay off $3500 towards our mortgages.
  11. Track spending, create a month end summary/report.
  12. Get together with one friend. Still working on broadening my social network in the new area. :-)
  13. Read 4 books.
  14. Have 10 no spend days.

I think that will do it! How about you? What are your February goals? 

January Low Spend Challenge Recap

First of all, TGIF! And, by that, I mean - Thank Goodness It's February! :-) January was a very difficult month for me - I worked 60-70 hour weeks every week, had lots of evening events, and a trip out of town for work. When any of those things happen, the work just builds up, as there's no one to provide additional support. I have laid down firm guidance to my manager on level of support I need in order to continue in this role. He's made some very initial indications that more support is on the way, but I need to see that in action to believe.

Enough of that. It's been a tough week. I actually served the world class dinner of soy corn dogs & pretzel chips on Friday night. That's when I know I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel & have no energy to take care of the family. I did take the boys to family movie night at their school in the evening, and managed to stay awake for the entire thing. Triumph! :-)

I'll do a full January goal recap as well, but here were my No/Low Spend Challenge results. Many thanks to Carla for providing the inspiration & motivation this month

These were my specific January Challenge goals. 

  • Trim our grocery spending down to $450. Actual spend = $465. I'm thrilled with this result. January was a very difficult month in terms of planning, & I'm very excited that I even came close, given the month i had.
  • Trim dining out down to $75 (should just cover one date with M). I feel like I should get partial credit, as I had to pay for my own meals on my work trip. Seriously? What a rip off. I work for a giant corporation, with plenty of money, so I'm loathe to report these numbers. C'est la vie, I suppose. Total spend - $354. 
  • Spend $0 on clothes for the kids + me. - I spent $0 on myself (and, actually returned something, so I had a $12 credit on my credit card), but bought Sam shoes for $21. I'm calling this a win!
  • Spend $0 on gifts, travel, personal, health, liquor, & house categories. Let's break this out for the results.
    • Gifts - I found what I wanted to get for the boys birthdays, so picked those up. Organizers for their Rainbow Loom. The goal was to organize those zillion rubber bands that are constantly all over my floor. Total spend = $36. 
    • Travel - I paid for our vacation next month (trip to visit family for the boys birthday, including overnight stay at Great Wolf Lodge). My sister will reimburse me for her half. Total spend = $836.
    • Personal - I got a pedicure to take care of my ingrown toenails, & the boys all got hair cuts. Total spend = $66.
    • Health - I spent $14 to reassure myself that we wouldn't be expanding our family. ;-) Peace of mind = money well spent! 
    • Liquor - I spent $0!!! A category that I actually achieved my target!! :-) 
    • House - I spent $320 on legal documents (wills, guardianships, etc). I don't have another category to put this in, but I'm THRILLED that I finally did it!!
    • Toiletries - $85. We were out of everything. Toilet paper, paper towels, etc. These all fall under my "toiletries" category. 

All told, I'm giving myself a pass for the month. I didn't do well on my actual targets, but given the month I had, it could have been so much worse. I'll have to add up how many no spend days, but I think the numbers would be impressive.

Let's hope February is a giant improvement over January. :-) How did you do with your challenge goals?