Monday, May 25, 2015

A lovely weekend, and thinking about house buying

The extra bonus day makes all of the difference! It's been relaxing (haven't really done much, as Sam has a cold), but productive.

  • I made six dozen muffins yesterday
  • Picked & juiced all of our lemons
  • Picked all of the oranges (haven't tackled those yet)
  • Made zucchini bread from our homegrown zucchinis
  • Bought the boys new duvet covers. Sam's was 8 years old, and had some holes
  • Dealt with our lease renewal, or rather, kicked off the email to see if we can renew our lease for another year. 
  • Made 3 batches of homemade taquitos
  • Dropped a few things off to be altered. This chore had been on my to do list for months, but I've struggled to get there when they were open. Woohoo!
  • Returned some items at the mall

I've also worked out, enjoyed a few lovely dinners from M (salmon & corn, and a yummy shrimp & pasta veggie dish), and sat out in the sunshine reading my book. Relaxing & fabulous.

As it's time to think about renewing our lease, M & I have been discussing what the future holds for our housing situation here. We'd run the numbers a few months ago, and figured that we could potentially afford a $1.8M house (the very lowest possible price in our neighborhood, keeping the boys in the same school), once our stock options vest next year. This would align nicely with our rental agreement. However, when I looked up potential housing options for budget purposes, there's not a single home for sale in our school district for less than $2.4M. Wow. Quite a jump. Inventory is very limited where we are, to say nothing of the housing prices. This brings us back to what we plan to do next year when our lease expires. And, enormous amount of silent prayers & finger crossing that we can extend without too much of a jump on our existing rent this year.

I'm so grateful that we found an amazing neighborhood to live in (with extremely short notice) when we moved to California. But, now that we're stuck buying in the same district, it's very painful. Keeping the kids in the same school district is our number one priority, which means we have a lot of painful choices coming up. 

We could sell our house in Seattle (which is now cash flow neutral/slightly positive), and that would bring us quite a ways to closing the gap. From an investment perspective, I'm loathe to give it up. But, we have a year to decide, I suppose. Maybe more inventory will magically show up here. ;-)

What about you? What have you been up to on this long weekend (assuming you have one)? Has anyone tried any fun new recipes? I may try this recipe for homemade frozen pizzas.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tracking our yearly expenses

I changed up my budget for 2015, and created both a  monthly budget, as well as our less consistent yearly budget. I had hoped to fully fund the yearly budget in January, but then realized that we had an enormous tax bill. So, I continue to pay for most of our yearly expenses, as well as trying to get ahead before things like our 10th anniversary trip in Hawaii. (Sidenote: can't wait! :-)) I really need to start beefing up our savings account over the next few months.

Anyway, 2015 is approximately 38% over, and here's how we're tracking for our yearly spending:


  • Taxes. Wow. Goal was $5K, ended up paying $40K. What a nice surprise that was.
  • Charitable contributions (above & beyond our standard monthly deductions). Up about $500 more than planned, as we donated to the boys schools, to help them meet their fundraising goal.
  • Clothing - we've spent 68% of our yearly budget. I'm an offender, and the boys cannot stop growing out of shoes. I have a bunch of stuff that I've yet to have time to return, so that should put us closer to on track I also don't plan to do much shopping for the remainder of the year. Hopefully the boys won't need much else.
  • Gifts - at 55% of our budget. Need to carefully track for the remaining months.
  • Health - at 64%. I was going to a gym class for a while there. I canceled when I noticed that I could only go every other or time or so due to work conflicts.


  • House - at 28%. We are going to have to either replace our dining room chairs, or have them re-upholstered. Two of the four have holes in the fabric. They are 15+ years old, so to be expected, I suppose.
  • Christmas - have't spent anything yet. :-)
  • Personal - at 32%. I need to figure out what I'm going to do with my hair. I typically have it cut 2x/year, but the gray is really starting to show through, & I'm thinking I might start coloring it, which will change this budget dramatically.
  • Auto. We've spent 30%, including an $800 service we had to have done last week.
  • Travel - at 32%. I've purchased most of the flights for the year, but still my parents flights in October (to watch the boys while we're in Hawaii), as well as our Christmas flights. In addition to the actual trips we have coming up. 

On track:

  • Boys college savings. We earmarked $5K for the year, and put it all in a few months ago. 
  • Boys activities. We're at 35%. This includes soccer fees, etc.
  • Boys (all) - at 39%. This is the placeholder bucket for all of the other random expenses that come up & don't fit into any other logical group. Class fees, etc.
All told, it was a bit of an experiment to move to a yearly budget, but I love it! It works out extremely well, and has given me a way to track uneven expenses without blowing our monthly budget. I feel like our monthly budget is more on track, because I can understand if we're actually over on things that we should be paying more attention to (dining out, groceries, etc). In the past, if I paid for a vacation, my entire monthly budget was blown out of the water. 

What about you? Do you track your yearly expenses? Do you have a similar system? How is it working for you?

Monday, May 18, 2015

May goals - way overdue

Given that the month is more than half over, I'll keep these basic this month:


  • Reschedule financial planner meeting
  • Stick to our budget
  • Start planning our 2016 budget & schedule
  • Schedule dentist appts for everyone. 
  • Get my youngest to try two new foods.
  • Book my parents flight for our Hawaii trip + our Christmas flights
  • Plan Ms' birthday & Father's Day
  • Put together a nanny write up.

  • Lose 4 pounds
  • Track my food/exercise
  • Complete 900 minutes of cardio
  • Complete 10 strength workouts & 3 stretching workouts

  • Continue to look for ways to streamline my work schedule
  • Make a concrete list of goals for work (already have them, but they are too fuzzy). Break them down into an actionable plan.
  • Work out 8 weekday mornings

Giving back
  • Volunteer at school at least once, log my hours (my work will donate money in exchange)
  • Pick & donate all fruit we can't eat to nonprofit

I'm super late, but how are you doing with your May goals? 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Soccer Sunday

Both boys played for Sam's team today. Sam had a great run at goalie. The team ended up losing, but it was a lovely afternoon cheering on mini soccer players.

I also managed to do yoga, go on a 30 minute bike ride to the library & grocery store with the kids, make pizza for tomorrow's dinner, wash the sheets, finish the laundry, menu plan, & just generally get prepared for life tomorrow. It feels nice to be organized again. :-)

Here are a few other thoughts for this Sunday. . . 

Happy I accomplished this week:
  • Survived work. I'm covering for someone who is out on leave, and it's a project that I inherited at the last minute, with lost of launch dramas. It was very stressful, but I *mostly* stayed under control. :-)
  • Adjusted our Hawaii dates & reservations, based on a schedule change on my parents side. 
Top goals for this week:
  • Plan M's birthday & Father's Day
  • Sort out the rest of our summer calendar
  • Work out a minimum of five times.

And, that's it! How about you? What are you happy  you accomplished this week? 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A long weekend to celebrate my grandmother

I'm off to Portland today to head to the beach house & celebrate the life of my grandmother with my mother & sister. I'm hoping that it will be a good opportunity to remember all of the fun we had together, instead of a completely sad occasion. My grandmother was a huge part of my life growing up, and had a very big soft spot for my boys. She is missed very much.

I've had a problem with my computer not allowing me to log on to blog without breaking all of my settings for my work stuff, so I haven't been blogging much. I'm a blogger slacker! Since I do not plan to bring my laptop on this trip, I figured that now was as good a time as any to update. :-)

Here are a few things happening in our lives right now:

  1. Finances look as good as expected, post the IRS/tax excitement. We've opted not to sell any stock to cover the bill, so our cash flow is tight at the moment. This should be okay as long as we keep our expenses in check. The stock is from our employer & vests regularly. If we choose to buy a house here (and, it's looking like that's going to happen in the next three years), the stock will make up our down payment.
  2. I'm starting to freak out about extending our lease. We want to, but don't know if the owners are still interested in renting for another year. We live in a market with *very few* rental properties, and need to keep the kids in the same school district. *panic!*
  3. My health is very good at the moment. I am grateful.
  4. My weight is holding steady at 150. I'm not sure how/why, as I've been getting more exercise & eating well consistently. Getting old is hard! My goal is to get down to 140 pounds by our anniversary in October.
  5. M & I are going to Hawaii to celebrate our 10th anniversary. I can't wait! I found an amazing deal via Costco - much cheaper than the hotel directly, and came with a rental car!
  6. The boys are doing great. Lots of soccer, growing rapidly, and getting more tan by the moment. They are the picture of healthy, happy kids. My heart is full.
  7. Speaking of which, the boys participated in a fundraiser at their school a couple of weekends ago. Sam ran 16 miles at a 9:00/mile pace. Nick ran 13. I was blown away by their stamina - so impressive!! 
  8. I'm looking forward to seeing my mom & sister this weekend. We always get in a lot of walking/hiking/wine drinking & reminiscing when we are together. I know that losing my grandmother has been hard on my mom, so I'm glad that I can be there for her first Mother's Day without her mom.
  9. We considered going to Yosemite for the upcoming long weekend (Memorial Day), but opted to do a few day trips to keep the expenses in check. (See #1)
  10. And, work. My team was re-organized & I'm now going to be in charge of a significant portion of the business. My team quadrupled in size, and I'm going to be hiring senior level managers. All of this is fantastic in the long term - I actually see a path ahead for success and work/life balance. In the immediate term, I'm individually managing 20+ people, in three different time zones. Recruiting & getting everyone trained is my number one priority. I'm also going to Tokyo in a few weeks before all of the summer craziness.

I've missed my blogging, tracking, and posting, as well as keeping up with all of you. I hope to do a better job in May of spending time being more proactive with my goals & fitness!