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Home > Archive: January, 2015

Archive for January, 2015

Back to work

January 28th, 2015 at 06:44 pm

I am officially back at work this week after maternity leave. It is really tough to be away from my new little guy, and it's been an emotional week so far. I know he has good care while I'm working, but I miss him! Also, it's just hard to get back into the swing of the workweek.

On the financial front, we received our last reimbursement from our 2014 dependent care FSA. $1504, which I'm sending to the emergency fund. We're now up to $1512.42 of the $5K we hope to add this year. Can't wait for the tax return to bump this up some more!

A surprise

January 27th, 2015 at 12:07 pm

And not the good kind!

I have been diligently tracking all of our variable spending for the month of January. Well, today I took a peek at totals so far. We are spending *much* more than I thought, and we still have four days to go!

We'll still be able to pay the the CC balance in full, thankfully. But if we're going to meet our savings goals for the year, we're going to have to be more careful with spending in the future.

I'm glad I've committed to tracking things so that we can see what we actually spend instead of just getting a "feel" for what we're spending.

Quick update

January 23rd, 2015 at 07:21 pm

We had two direct deposits for work reimbursements credited to our checking account this week -- $14.99 and $399.00. Since I'd already paid off the credit card with these expenses, I transferred $413.99 to to the home repair/improvement fund. New total is $2193.75.

Have a great weekend everyone!

My credit history

January 20th, 2015 at 08:50 am

I thought I'd share a little bit more about myself: I didn't get my first credit card until I was 25.

My junior year in college, my parents added me as an authorized user to one of their credit cards. The reason was that I was going to spend a month abroad for school, and I thought it would be easier/safer to be able to use a credit card for purchases rather than trying to deal with traveler's checks. My parents agreed after I promised to pay back everything I spent on the card.

After I got back from the trip, my parents said I could stay on the card as long as I continued to pay off my purchases. I think it made them feel better knowing I had a credit card in my wallet just in case. I still mostly used cash for purchases, but every month my mom would forward me a copy of their credit card statement will my purchases highlighted, and I would send them a check. So I guess I had a credit card from the Bank of Mom and Dad.

When I graduated from college, I planned to buy my first car. I had enough money saved so that I could pay cash for the car, but I decided to finance a small portion of it to help build my credit. But I was denied a loan because of my lack of credit history. My dad agreed to co-sign the loan for me (again, so I could build my credit), but then we found out that he would have had to have his name on the car title. Which meant he could have been liable if I were to get in an accident. So instead I paid cash for the car.

A few years later, in graduate school, I tried to apply for a student credit card. My application was denied, again because I had no credit history.

Finally, one day I was depositing my paycheck at the bank, and the teller asked me if I would like to apply for a credit card. I told her that I would probably be denied, but she said there was a note in my account that I was pre-approved. And that's how I got my first credit card.

Update and chosen non-financial goal for 2015

January 17th, 2015 at 06:16 pm

Not much time to update with two small boys running around. Well, one running around and the other being carried around! Any downtime in the evening and I want to sleep instead of update this blog. I just keep telling myself that eventually the sleep will happen again. So far I am staying on track with my January goals. No unplanned spending at Target, and I haven't checked Amazon deals even once!

I did take advantage of the $25 gift card for spending $100 on baby products (diapers, wipes, etc) at Target to stock up on diapers. It was too good of a deal to pass up! I'm not sure how long DS2 will be wearing size 1 diapers yet (he seems bigger every day!), so I bought mostly larger sizes that I can tuck away until later. I didn't want to be stuck with a ton of diapers that were too small.

I'm also tracking our discretionary spending so far, but I haven't really looked closely at the numbers yet. I wonder if I will be surprised at the end of the month?

On the will front, I have chosen a local law firm and plan call them next week about a consultation.

Payday was Thursday, and I added $200 to the home improvement/ fund and $200 to the education fund. We also received credit card rewards in the amounts of $58.54 and $206.52 (including bonus offer), so those will be added to the home improvement fund as well, bringing this fund to $1779.76.

I think I have decided that my non-financial goal for 2015 will be to take care of MYSELF. Included it that will be mini-goals to lose the pregnancy weight, update my wardrobe, etc. I'll flesh these out more in a later post. Some of these mini-goals might require some spending, but I will try to be careful and keep it within our monthly budget.

Garbage can lids

January 7th, 2015 at 11:02 am

Why is it that the hardware stores (at least the big ones, like HD and Lowes) won't let you buy just the lid to a garbage can. I think they could make a fortune!

We lost our lid last night. This isn't the first time this has happened to us! It's possible it's buried somewhere under the snow, but it's location is not apparent. One time when we lost it, I offered to buy the entire garbage can at HD to get the lid, but wanted to leave the garbage can at the store because I didn't need it. The manager thought I was crazy and eventually just let me have a lid for free. Again, I don't understand why they don't just sell replacement lids.

I thought about trying for another free lid this morning, but honestly didn't have the time/energy, so I ordered a new one from Amazon instead. Even if we find the old one, it'll be nice to have a spare. Our county doesn't let us leash the lid to the can, so it will likely continue to happen. Maybe bricks on top of the lid would do the trick?

Snow day and 2015 financial goals

January 6th, 2015 at 07:37 pm

We had a snow day here today; stayed home and had a no spend day. DH did walk to Starbucks to do some work away from the noisy household, so he spent a little. But I did not!

Here is what I've settled on for financial goals for 2015. I'll probably post some personal goals later.

(1) Track all variable spending; report monthly totals on blog

Variable spending includes gas, parking/tolls, cash, clothing, alcohol, dining our, groceries, gifts, household, leisure, miscellaneous, and personal care. (Listed in the order my software puts them; not in order of importance Smile )

We have a rough budget for these, but I'd like to see if our amounts are reasonable by tracking for a couple of months. Once we have a handle on what we're actually spending, we can target certain categories for reduction in spending.

(2) Open mutual fund accounts for each kid (2.5K for DS1, 1K for DS2, add 500 for each this year)

These accounts will be theirs to use for educational expenses, or for something else if they're not needed for that. We'll aim to put $500 in for each kid on his birthday. This is also where we'll deposit any $$ received from relatives for college savings.

(3) Do our wills

I'm embarrassed we still haven't done this. The primary reason for doing this is so that it's clear what we want for our kids if we were to die. Both of our families know the plan, and there shouldn't be any issues in executing it, but it's just better/safer to have it legally done.

(4) Add 4K to educational investment accounts

These accounts contain the bulk of college savings for our kids. We are saving most of it in our names because we aren't sure yet how much we will contribute financially to their college educations. We also don't know how much will be needed. If we don't need it, it can be used for our retirement. This will be automated with $334 a month, so this goal should be automatically met.

(5) Save 10K for home repairs/improvements

Some of these are badly needed, and some of these are more wants. These include some plumbing repairs/upgrades, new storm doors for front and back, some landscaping, and a rebuilt from porch. We usually save $275 a month in this category. This year I will bump that up to $400 a month. The rest would need to come from other sources, such as credit card rewards, our tax refund, etc. I'm not sure this is doable, but I'm going to try!

(6) Add 5K to emergency fund

We have a pretty solid emergency fund in place, but I'd like to work to increase it, especially since we've added another member to our family. This year I'd like to add 5K. I plan to use our tax refund to cover most of this, along with dependent care flexible spending reimbursements.

(7) 50K in an opportunity fund

I'm not really sure this goal is possible, in fact it might be a huge failure. DH recently started receiving royalty payments for a product he created. We aren't sure how big these will continue to be, or how long they will last. We used the first two to beef up our emergency fund after a few costly home repairs this summer. Now that our EF is funded, I asked DH what he wanted to do with this money. Initially he (half-jokingly) wanted to save up to buy a Tesla Smile But instead we decided to sock it away in what we're calling an "opportunity fund." This could be useful in the future if we decide to relocate closer to family (and to a higher cost of living location.) Or if we want to buy an investment property. Or something like that. Unfortunately, DH says that a trip to Tahiti isn't really an "opportunity." Darn it!

Quick check in

January 5th, 2015 at 07:16 pm

Baby reflux is much better tonight. Asleep by 9:20, and even with holding him upright for 30 minutes afterwards to help with the reflux, I'm still downstairs by 10. Yay!

I had my first trip to Target for the month of January today, and I kept to my written list. Although I was severely tempted to buy a storage container. They always put all the organizational goods on display at the beginning of the year (along with all the fitness items, right?)

I will think about whether the storage container is really needed, and if it is, it can go on the list for next time. But I'm glad to have resisted in the moment.

Hope everyone has a good night!

Reflux and January goals

January 4th, 2015 at 07:57 pm

My new little guy is dealing with some acid reflux, and we've had rough nights the past few days. Last night he finally fell asleep at 4am. Tonight it is 10:40pm, and I think he is finally comfortably asleep!

No energy for tackling my 2015 goals tonight, but I thought I'd share my smaller goals for January. One thing that I tend to do on maternity leave is buy things from Amazon and Target. (I did this with the last child, too.)

The Target thing is because it gives me something to do that gets me out of the house. And there's something about Target that encourages babies to sleep! I don't know if it's the lighting, the music, or the carts, but both of my kids slept like babies while rolling around Target. So it gives me a place to walk around and window shop, which then leads to actual shopping.

The Amazon thing is because it is really easy to scroll through the Lightning Deals while up with a baby in the middle of the night. And then, it's really easy to find something you don't really need but think you do at 2am, click a button, and it shows up at your door two days later (we have Amazon Prime). Full disclosure -- these packages sometimes sit unopened for *days* until I have time to deal with them. So clearly I didn't really *need* them within two days!

I'm not really a shopper in real life, I swear, but when home with a baby I turn into one. So, my goals for January:

(1) Only purchase things at Target that are on my written list when I enter the store. I can't give up Target completely, because they are the cheapest/fastest local source for diapers, wipes, toiletries, etc. But no more aimless purchasing.

(2) No checking Amazon Deals. Not even once. I haven't done it yet this month, and I intend to keep it up. Some people might suggest removing our credit card info from our account to add a barrier to purchasing anything, but it's too darn convenient to realize you are almost out of baby wipes in the middle of the night and then just order them right from your phone. But, again, no more aimless purchasing.

Wish me luck!

A little more about me

January 2nd, 2015 at 08:24 pm

Thanks for the warm welcome! As Creditcardfree mentioned in her comment, I do feel like I already know you since I've been lurking for so long. So I will try to let you get to know me bit by bit. Here's one tidbit.

I have two little boys: DS1 is three and DS2 is two months. I am actually on maternity leave at the moment. I have about three weeks left of twelve weeks total leave. That's probably why I decided to start this blog. I've had a lot of down time while nursing, and I spend it watching TV series and reading blogs online. I refresh this site many times a day, and I get frustrated that you aren't posting fast enough to give me new reading material! Smile So then I think about what I would say in a blog post. I finally decided I should actually write the blog posts instead of just thinking about them.

As for watching TV while nursing, I have worked my way through the first three and a half seasons of Scandal, and now I am caught up to the current season, but they are on hiatus until the end of the month! I need some new shows to watch that might be available on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime (no cable in this house). Please give me your recommendations!

To give you an idea of what I currently like to watch: I've been enjoying Selfie (just recently cancelled Frown) and How to Get Away with Murder (also on hiatus right now). My husband and I watch Castle together, and I watch The Mindy Project by myself. I'm actually not a big TV watcher in general, but I have really ramped up my viewing since my son was born.

(Edited to fix apostrophes that were messed up when I copied/pasted from my text editor.)

Good start to the new year

January 2nd, 2015 at 11:16 am

Hi everyone! I've been a L O N G time lurker on this site, and I'm taking the plunge in 2015.

I started the new year with some good news. According to my net worth spreadsheet which I updated today, we increased our net worth by 45.6% in 2014, and just over half of that was retirement savings!

I'm not sure it will be possible to match that in 2015, but we will be focused on both retirement and regular savings in the new year. I'll post my 2015 goals soon.

Just wanted to join everyone else in wishing y'all a happy, healthy, and financially sound new year!