Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year, and Tales from the Grocery Store

I hope everyone has a safe, happy & fabulous New Year's Eve. I'm picking the boys up at the airport, and we'll have a little celebration at home, with appetizers, fancy drinks (sparkling lemonade for the kids, champagne for the adults) & some sort of a dance party or board games. Should be fun!

I made the final grocery trip of the year yesterday, and here's what we bought. I used to track our grocery spending often and found it a helpful tool, so I'll try to get back to that in 2015.

I spent a grand total of $134.06 (on the groceries. I also bought Sam a pair of Adidas pants for indoor soccer, but that went into another budget category).

  • We spent $22.97 on ground beef
  • $26.77 on canned goods, which included popcorn (to make at home), canned black beans, and olives
  • $12.68 on dairy (eggs & milk)
  • $4.99 on baguette bread for our appetizer tonight
  • $66.65 on produce, including the following:
    • Eight jumbo pomegranates
    • Two bunches of bananas
    • Six English cucumbers
    • A bag of cauliflower
    • A giant container of mushrooms
    • A bag of broccoli
    • A bag of carrots
    • Pears
    • One honeydew melon
    • Organic celery hearts (meant to grab the plain ones, as these were not as fresh & more expensive. Drat)
    • Cranberries
    • Apples
    • Roma tomatoes

Produce took up 50% of our spending, which is pretty much where we're usually at. How about you? How much do you typically spend per category at the grocery store? Any fun New Year's Eve plans? 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

January Goals

I love this time of year! The goal setting, the fresh starts, the new spreadsheet trackers. . . I know, I know. I'm a little strange, but it's an extra dose of motivation, and who couldn't use some of that? ;-)

Here are my goals for the first month of the year:


  • Set up meeting with financial planner
  • Max out 2015 401K with bonus money
  • Figure out boys college accounts (potentially the Utah 529 plan)
  • Stick to our budget
  • Fund our yearly budget categories with remaining bonus money
  • Start gathering stuff for our accountant
  • Plan two fun family outings
  • Figure out February week off. Looking at skiing.
  • Get my youngest to try two new foods.

  • Lose 2 pounds
  • Track my food/exercise
  • Run 20 miles
  • Complete 700 minutes of cardio
  • Complete 8 strength workouts & 8 stretching workouts

  • Better consolidate my evening meetings
  • Find 2 days/week that I can work out during the day

Giving back
  • Look into volunteering at the school once in January
  • Set up charitable contribution increase
  • Sort through our three hall closets (aka, where junk goes to die). Declutter, organize, etc.
  • Plan/book date night with M
  • Do something social with a friend. Maybe a hike.
  • Read 5 books.
  • Try a new recipe (with a focus on something that my youngest will actually eat)

What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish in January?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

I'm back at home, and the kids are still enjoying the beach. I'm jealous!

Look at that gorgeous view! 

Here's the menu plan for the week (this is pretty abnormal eating for me/us). We have salads with every dinner, so I don't bother listing that.

  • Monday - leftover Chipotle. I picked this up on my way home from the airport last night, and have enough for a second dinner. I'm trying to cut my calories after all of those holiday meals.
  • Tuesday - I have a $5 Amex credit for McDonalds that will expire on Wednesday. I'd like to use it, and really don't eat there, so I will probably pick up a salad for dinner. 
  • Wednesday - We'll be having a New Year's Eve party (just the four of us). I'll make goat cheese crostini, and may pick up a pizza. We'll also have champagne & sparkling lemonade. ;-)
  • Thursday - We both have the day off, so M will make his famous Persian kebabs, tadiq (crusted rice) & a yogurt sauce. It's my favorite meal ever.
  • Friday - I'm thinking of this tomato, chicken & gorgonzola soup, but substituting the gorgonzola for goat cheese. Potentially with crostini. 
  • Saturday - Chicken marsala casserole
  • Sunday - Homemade chicken risotto

That should generate enough leftovers for a crazy work week next week. What about you? What's on your menu for the week? 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Maxing out 401K with bonus

I've been thinking about how to spend my bonus that I'm receiving in January, and rather than splitting the money up as I'd originally planned, I'm planning on doing the following:

  • Maxing out my 401K. This means that my full 2015 contribution will be invested in the market in January, giving me additional time in the market (that could be a blessing or a curse). I'll receive my full employer match in January as well. So, that will take care of $18,000 of the bonus.
  • I'm not sure how the taxes will work, but I'll assume another $20,000 towards taxes.
  • All of the rest, into savings. Approximately - $10,000.
I also feel like now is the time to confess that I did splurge a bit. I bought four lipglosses, and a wrinkle cream. Grand total of $60. I've been feeling kind of drab lately, so hopefully this helps. I love the new lip gloss, and it has SPF! Bonus, as my lips have been freckling quite a bit in the California sunshine.

It will take quite a bit of discipline to ensure that I'm saving the correct amount each month for our yearly categories. I'm excited to get the contribution out of the way early on. Has anyone else ever done this? Drawbacks? Advantages?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Looking at the 2015 budget

After finding out the size of our bonuses for 2015, I decided it was time to get a financial planner. I'm ready for us to take this step, and work with someone who can give us advice on best ways to maximize what we have, and plan for the future.

Here are the things we're currently thinking about:

  • Reducing mortgage debt. Does this make sense, given the low interest rates? Evaluate the options of how this would impact our tax burden.
  • Paying for the kids college. We want to fund some of this. What are the best strategies to do this? We have a bunch of money in a 529, but are considering a different vehicle & want recommendations. We're looking into the very well rated Utah 529 plan.
  • Saving for/buying a house in California. We'd love to buy here, but we're now in a neighborhood that our kids love, they are at school, etc. Houses here are in the $2.5M range for what I'd loosely describe as a "fixer upper".  Even if we could afford to buy right now, it would pain me greatly to purchase a house like that, and continue to dump money into it. 
  • Saving for retirement. We've maxed out our 401Ks for years, and have a sizable investment allocation. I assume we'll pass the $1M mark in the next 2-3 years. I feel like we're on track, but it would be good to get a check in on this. 
We've also been doing a bunch of thinking about our monthly & yearly cash expenditures.
We have a bit more money to work with (I'm getting a raise). I'm also dividing our budget into two groups of categories: monthly & yearly. Some expenses are just too irregular to track monthly.

Categories that are staying the same for 2015:
  1. Rent in SFO. Or, so we hope. We renew our lease over the summer, so we'll know more then.
  2. Insurance.
  3. Vacation house mortgage
  4. Seattle house mortgage
  5. Dining out. We went over in 2014, but I allocated a bunch of vacation eating out to this category, & think I should start tracking it in Travel in 2015, to understand the full cost of our travel budget. 
  6. Groceries. We went over slightly, but I think we can continue to look for improvements!
  7. Cleaning service. This will stay the same. We'll continue to budget for a weekly cleaning service.
  8. Gifts
  9. Health
  10. Personal. These are haircuts, and the like. None of us spend much money on this category.
  11. Entertainment. As the boys got older, it made sense to add this category for the occasional movie/bowling trip, etc. We'll keep the budget as is for 2015.
  12. Utilities. Across all three houses. We'd like to keep this even. It's still a substantial amount of money, so it's important to continue looking for opportunities to conserve.
  13. Alcohol. This is wine & hard alcohol. We have most of our "happy hour/date nights" at home, and enjoy making mixed drinks every so often. We count this separately from our grocery bill, as it's something we can easily cut out, if we're over in other categories.
  14. Taxes. All I can say is, we've hired an accountant. And, the amount we paid in taxes in 2014 is staggering. We tried our best to plan, but our income is a bit varied. *fingers crossed*

Categories that are going up for 2015:
  1. Childcare. I didn't do a good job forecasting the cost of summer camps, and we opted to go with a nanny this fall, which is more than our previous option.
  2. Boys activities. With two kids playing lots of soccer, it's expensive. We also want them to be able to try other sports. I'll just say this - the entire area is nuts with the cost of sports. 
  3. Auto. Our cars are getting older, so we need to start allocating more money for repairs. The cost of auto renewals, etc in California is also higher than in Washington, which pushed our budget up last year.
  4. Charitable contributions. We'd like to funnel more of our income to this, and have a plan to increase our monthly number.
  5. Boys birthdays. We're likely going to continue our trend of skipping any local parties, but flying to see my family & doing a combined visit/birthday party. The cost is more, but the boys get another chance to see their cousins & my family. Maybe this should go under travel. 
  6. Boys college. We're aiming to increase our savings for this category in 2015.
  7. Travel. It's important for us to spend time with family and friends, and it's our 10th wedding anniversary in 2015. We will definitely have a fun trip planned. :-) 

Categories that are going down for 2015:
  1. House. We spent quite a bit the year we moved, and significantly less last year. I think we have the ability to reduce this again, as I'm not envisioning any major expenses.
  2. Christmas. We're moving the cost of attending to travel, and reducing our spending on gifts. Every year, we work to cut our budget on this, and have been pretty successful.
  3. Gas. We are very close to our work, and we aren't driving a lot like we were in Seattle (skiing, driving to the Oregon coast, etc). Plus, the cost of gas has gone down. :-)
  4. Clothing. We spent less on clothes for me, plus clothes for M. The boys clothing creeped up a bit, as we replaced things, purchased sports shoes & gear, etc. We're going to combine all clothing into one bucket, and reduce the total number (from mine/M's pool) to offset the increase in the boys spending.
  5. Toiletries. We spent more than I thought. I pulled this out of our grocery spending a year or so ago, and it was eye opening to see how much we spend in this category. In positive news, we have an enormous stash of toiletries for 2015, and my goal is to really cut this down to size.
  6. Dry cleaning. This was so small in 2014 that I'm not going to bother tracking it anymore. I'll fold it into "House".

For the revised 2015 budget, here are our monthly categories:
  • Childcare
  • Cleaning service
  • Dining out
  • Toiletries
  • Entertainment
  • Gas
  • Groceries
  • Insurance
  • SFO rent
  • Combined utilities
  • Liquor
  • Vacation house mortgage
  • Seattle house mortgage

We'll also have the following yearly categories:
  • Travel
  • Boys activities/lessons
  • House
  • Taxes
  • Boys (everything else)
  • Auto
  • Boys college
  • Charitable contributions
  • Clothing (all combined)
  • Christmas
  • Health
  • Personal

So, how does that stack up, as compared to the 2014 budget & actual spending? Our 2015 is budgeted at about $3400 higher than our 2014 planned budget, but about $7100 less than we actually spent in 2014. Our goal was to make the budget more realistic, adjust for some of the more expensive budget items, and reduce the categories/spending that are less of a priority for us. All told, we want to spend more in some categories in 2015, but less overall! :-) Now, to make that happen. :-)

Phew! This was a long one. I often use my blog posts to jog my own memory about things, and find financial details to be very exciting. :-) How about you? What's your plan for the 2015 budget? Have you decided which categories to increase vs decrease?  

Friday, December 26, 2014

2014 Financial Summary - how did we spend our money?

I did a year end financial summary last year, and found it to be very helpful.

Here's a quick visual look at where our money is going:

Not all of the categories are visually captured, so here are the details (errors due to rounding)

  • Rent in San Francisco was 25% of our spending. GASP!!!! INSANITY!!!
  • Our Seattle mortgage is 24%, not counting our income on the rental, which I'll include under income.
  • Our vacation house mortgage was the next highest, at 9.5%
  • Our additional taxes (which included a sizable backpay due to an error in 2011) was 8.6%
  • Travel - 7%. We, apparently, really enjoyed 2014. ;-) 
  • Childcare - 5%
  • Groceries - 3%
  • Utilities - 2%
  • Car - 2%
  • Boys lessons - 1.7% (this shot up substantially, with both boys making it into a select soccer league. Yikes!)
  • Dining out - 1.6%
  • Gas - 1.1%
  • Insurance - 1%
  • All other categories - 7%
So, how does that compare with our spending in 2013?

  • The rent is up, as we moved partway through 2013.
  • The Seattle mortgage is now higher as well (up 3%), as we're aggressively paying it off.
  • Our vacation house mortgage dropped from 14%, so down 4.5%.
  • Our taxes went up .6%.
  • Childcare dropped by 1%
  • Other is now 2% higher (any category under $2,000 gets lumped in. We do track all of the categories separately throughout the year). It includes: Christmas, clothing, entertainment, gifts, and a variety of other small categories.
  • Travel climbed 3%, as we had a major vacation (Hawaii) this year, as well as the last-minute trip to Napa. It's also just generally more expensive to visit family, now that we've moved.
  • Groceries are down 1%.
  • Our house category isn't even on the radar, and last year represented 4% of the total sum. 
  • Auto (not including gas) is down 1%
  • Insurance dropped by 1%
  • Dining out dropped by .4%
  • And, the boys lessons went up .7%
  • Gas went down .9%
  • Utilities were down 1%
Net/net, some of our smaller categories are down this year, but our biggest categories are up, which makes all of the difference, and not in a good way.

All told, our spending between 2014 & 2013 is up $29,000. Our mortgage on our Seattle house is not entirely covered by the rent (we hope to break even in the next few years) & our rent is astronomically more than our mortgage was. As noted, most of our other categories have gone down, as we try to cut back.

In good news, our income also went up - pretty drastically. Our income was up $93,000, which is an enormous jump, without including our rental income. The bonuses I mentioned a few posts ago won't be paid out until January, so we'll have that, as well as a 12% raise (for me). All good news, but I am worried about the absolutely staggering cost of living here, and the complete cost (meaning, time, my sanity, etc) of this area, and what it takes to generate this kind of income. It's definitely not sustainable for me in the long-term, which I think about every day.

Next up is how we plan to handle the additional money in 2015, and how we will continue to drive certain spending categories down. What about you? How did you do with your spending/income in 2014? 

(And, a few caveats. The numbers above don't include: retirement savings, charitable contributions, or health care, as those are deducted automatically from our checks, so we don't even think of them. ;-))

UPDATE: Based on the comment about splitting about the actual expenses for our rental property & adding in the income, I updated the pie chart. Here is the update:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014 Goals, in Review

So, how about those 2014 goals? ;-) Well, I'm going to consider this year marginally successful. I rocked out my fitness goals for the first six months of the year, and then things fell apart the second half of the year. My work responsibilities increased dramatically, my stress increased, & I had less time to work out.

  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. - Well, I lost 8 pounds, and then gained it all back. :-( 
  2. Continue tracking my food/exercise every day in My Fitness Pal. This has been tremendously helpful. - Yes!
  3. Improve my fitness by doing the following:
    1. Complete 11,000 minutes of cardio. - The year isn't over yet, but I'm at 9551. I'm clearly not going to make it. I'm going to bust my buns to hit 10,000, but it's going to be tricky. 
    2. Complete 100 strength workouts. - I'm at 76. Shooting for 80 by the end of the year. 
    3. Complete 75 stretching workouts. - I'm at 32. Aiming for 35 by ear end. 
  4. Choose a half marathon to train for, and complete it! Sometime this spring. - YES!!! I DID IT! :-) 
  5. Have one date night per month with M. - Yes!! 
  6. Plan one social/friend activity per month. - Yes!!
  7. Finalize will/guardianship. - This one was on the to yearly goals for multiple years, and I can finally check it off! :-) 
  8. Save $50,000 towards a downpayment for a house in California. - No. We opted not to sell any of our stock, and had a bunch of tax drama to deal with. However, the money is still in our stock, ready for whatever we decide on the housing front. 
  9. Put $5,000 in boys college accounts. - No. We haven't figured out how we're going to save (we likely are going to switch plans). We're going to meet with a financial planner in January, so we'll double up on our contributions in 2015. We did contribute $1200 before we decided to hold. 
  10. Pay $30,000 towards our mortgage principal(s). - Oh, we crushed this! We paid off $50,900!!! 
  11. Figure out a plan for vacation house. - We listed our house, and had it on the market for six months. We didn't get one offer. The market on the coast is still very unstable. We don't need the money, and it wouldn't have been a financially prudent idea to sell. We also love the house, so would prefer to hold & re-evaluate in a few years. 
  12. Track our all of our spending, stick to our budget, and create monthly spending reports. - Well, not really. I'll get the financial part of our 2015 reporting. We're in good shape, but there were definitely areas that need improvement. :-) 
  13. Plan an adult only vacation with M! - Yes! We did two long weekends. One to Napa, and the other to Las Vegas. It was exactly what we needed. :-) 
  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. - Enormous fail. The work got harder. The good news is, it's even more of a motivation to solve this in 2015! 

Okay, so that's a grand total of 8 successes, 4 partial wins, and 4 fails. That's about my standard mix of results - I like to aim high, even if it means that I have failures. What about you? How do you set up your goals? How did you do in 2014? 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Goals for 2015

Planning the year ahead & setting goals is one of my absolute favorite things to do!

I've come up with a few areas of focus this year, and some goals within them:

  • Financial
    • Meet with a financial advisor
    • Save $50,000 towards a downpayment for a house in California
    • Put $10,000 in the boys college accounts
    • Pay $55,000 towards our mortgage principal(s)
    • Save for our 2015 travel budget in advance
    • Stick to our budget
    • Re-plan our yearly budget categories
  • Family
    • Look for more opportunities to have fun with the family.
    • Be more present with the kids.
    • Come up with a five year plan that minimizes my need to work in my career (open to other work options).
  • 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.
    • Run another half marathon.
    • Track my food/exercise every day.
    • Complete 10,000 minutes of cardio
    • Complete 100 strength workouts.
    • Complete 75 stretching workouts. 
  • Work/career
    • Keep better perspective at work/reduce stress.
    • Reduce my hours.
  • 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.
    • Increase our charitable giving by 25%
  • House
    • Declutter each room in the house
    • Clean out the garage
  • Personal/creative
    • Have one date night with M per month
    • Learn a new skill. I'm thinking of learning a new language, but would be fine with anything: sewing, knitting, expanding my baking, etc.
    • Make time for my friends! Do something social at least once per month.
    • Read 50 books. 
Being a balanced person is not easy, is it? ;-) Okay, those are my goals! I'm pretty excited about them. How about you? What are your goals for 2015?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The highs and lows

The first half of yesterday was a fantastic day. It didn't end that way, so I'll hit the highlights.

All of the good things about yesterday, because I'm having a hard time seeing the positives right now:
  • We returned a requested party item for Nick's school party (they ended up not needing it), and I mentioned to the boys that they could share the money for their savings account. They've both been very interested in charity lately, so they chose to donate the money to a food bank.
  • We also went through our pantry (at the boys request) & found a bunch of non-perishables to donate.
  • We've been talking about doing good deeds a lot at home, so when we got the grocery store & saw two carts blocking the parking spots, the boys got out (unasked) and moved them. When we were returning to our car, both boys noticed that someone was then parked in one of the freed spots, and they were both happy that someone was having an easier day because of their nice deed.
  • A remote controlled car (a new gift) ran over my holiday cardamom bread that I was double proofing, and it now has tire prints on it. (I had a towel over it, so there was no dirt transferred). I'm counting this as something good, because M & I laughed for quite a while over the bread and it's now very interesting shape. This is my only contribution to my family's holiday celebration (we also send money & pay for the festive drinks that M will make, but since we fly, it's hard to prep any other food) & it's now pretty funny. ;-)
  • I also did yoga and felt amazing afterward.
  • M made lemon drops, & they were just about the best drink I've ever had.
  • M also made my favorite rice dish, to accompany some leftover beef kebabs we had.
  • We ended up with two unexpected dinner guests (our neighbor girls), and giving their parents (both are super busy doctors) an unplanned couple of hours alone felt pretty great. The girls were very fun and loved the rice & kebabs.

And, just as the day was coming to a close, I had a bad feeling about my good friend. She's someone that I worked with for years, and she's about the most positive, upbeat person you could imagine. We used to travel together quite a bit for work, so we've spent lots of time together & she's like the brightest ray of light in the room. She also has lupus, so when I was first diagnosed,  she was the one giving me pep talks, cheering me up, talking to me about treatment options, etc.

Lupus increases the risk of (some types of) cancer, and she was diagnosed about six months ago. Last week, she found out that it was terminal. She's 42 years old, and my heart is broken for her. It's so unexplainably sad. A few friends are planning a little three day trip to celebrate her birthday in January, and I'm going to try & make it for one night. I would love to see her.

Life is too short. What a reminder to take each day as it comes, make the most of it, and focus on living in a way that makes you proud. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

We are heading to my parents house on the 23rd, so I'm going to do a "use it up" menu plan through the end of the year. Here's what we'll be having:

  • Monday - 12/15. I have a work dinner, so M will feed the kids. Likely pizza. ;-) 
  • Tuesday - 12/16. Burgers & pasta
  • Wednesday - 12/17. Tilapia & rice.
  • Thursday - 12/18. Tacos
  • Friday - 12/19. chicken risotto (chicken/pasta for kids)
  • Saturday - 12/20. 
  • Sunday - 12/21. Homemade pizza.
  • Monday - 12/22. Leftovers
  • Tuesday - 12/23. Eating out with the family in Portland.
  • Wednesday - 12/24. Christmas Eve. Not sure what's on the menu. I contribute money, & my mom/sister plan it all. ;-)
  • Thursday - 12/25. A big ham dinner with the family. I contribute money, as we fly.
  • Friday - 12/26. At the beach house. We'll probably throw together some things from the freezer (meatballs, pasta, etc).
  • Saturday - 12/27. The family is reconvening back at the beach for a last hurrah before we head out. Pizza + salad & lots of festive drinks. :-)
  • Sunday - 12/28. I'm flying home & will find something in the freezer. Michael + the boys will have chicken & pasta.
  • Monday - 12/29. Hot dogs & burgers for the kids - I'll eat at work.
  • Tuesday - 12/30. Leftovers for the kids/M - I'll eat at work.
  • Wednesday - 12/31. New Year's Eve! We'll do festive appetizers, plus homemade pizza.
And, that should take us through the next couple of weeks. Lots of fun to be had between now & the end of the year! How about you? What's on your menu these next few weeks, as we close out the year? 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Planning for 2015

Wow - another year, almost gone! I love reflecting back on what I accomplished over the year & planning for the year ahead. Sadly, this year I really didn't accomplish as much as I'd hoped personally. I'll save the details for my full goal review, but work definitely got in the way of much of what I'd hoped to accomplish. Leading me to my planning for 2015! :-)

I'm thinking of a few themes for my 2015 goals:

  1. Financial
  2. Family
  3. Fitness/health
  4. Work/career
  5. Giving back
  6. House
  7. Personal/creative
What about you? How are you planning for 2015? I also am excited to do our financial review, & determine how we're spending our money (in aggregate), and how we want to adjust our spending/savings in 2015.

In other news, this happened to our house in Seattle. It's certainly related to the state work near our house (they removed an enormous of dirt on our property, tore down a fence, etc). We've asked them to remove the tree, fix the fence, replace the landscaping that they've destroyed. . . so far, they do not think this is their responsibility. Ahhhhh, the government! Fun times ahead, for sure.

Hope you are all having a fantastic Sunday!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Preparing for the holidays, work bonus, & the rain

As usual, life is crazy. We got back from our amazing vacation, and we're now back to the grind. :-)

I'm spending time thinking about our goals for 2015, wrapping up our 2014 budget & goals, and working insane hours. Q4 is our busiest time of year, by far.

In super great news, I received my annual bonus & salary increase. I'm getting a roughly 12% salary increase (much more than expected) & a $48,000 bonus (also more than I expected). Wow. Almost makes all of those crazy hours worth it. ;-)

I'll receive the bonus in January, and my salary will also take effect at that time. I'm undecided on where to put the salary increase, but will probably direct it to the kids college savings. On the bonus, the plan is as follows:

  • $24,000 - estimated tax & deductions. I aim high, but with all of the taxes, 50% is pretty close to what I see
  • $15,000 - travel fund for 2015. This will include a few family visits to see my parents, flights back and forth to our vacation house, Christmas 2015 travels, and our 10 year anniversary in the fall! :-) 
  • $9,000 - save for the emergency fund. I'd love the deductions to be less, so I can shove an even $10K in, but we'll see!

We have a bunch of holiday things happening this weekend, so here's our list of activities & things to get done:

  1. Birthday party
  2. Tea party
  3. Holiday party (all parties are on Saturday! Phew!)
  4. Send out Christmas cards
  5. Put up last decorations (our tree is up, but we have a candle set & some other stuff that I need to put out.)
  6. Exercise! It's been crazy rainy & stormy here, so I haven't been exercising as much as usual.
  7. Cooking
  8. Laundry
  9. Packing for the holidays
  10. Final wrapping & prep
  11. Perhaps holiday baking, if I finish the first 10 items on the list.
That's it! What about you? Any festive plans this weekend?