Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Please excuse the absence

First off, many apologies for the long gap in my posting. Since I stopped detailing my food every day, I must admit that I'm struggling a bit with what I want to "do" with my blog. I had plenty of thoughts of shutting it down, updating it several times a week, and/or everything in between.

One of the challenges about having a blog that's so financially focused is that I feel like I have to keep it anonymous. And I feel like that anonymity makes it very challenging to create a voice for the blog. I have a more fitness focused blog that is not anonymous, & I love posting pictures (although I'm a terrible photographer), and feeling like I can really be myself in that forum.

All of that said, posting about my finances absolutely keeps me more on track, which I love. It helps me stay motivated to reach my goals, and to pay attention to what I'm spending, and how I'm spending it. I find so much motivation in reading all of your blogs & seeing your creative ways to cut spending.

Even though April is mid-way through, I do have a few goals I'm focused on this month.

  1. Run a 5K. This was a 2009, 2010, and 2011 yearly goal, & I'm finally planning to do it. My race is this Sunday. :-)
  2. Run 30 miles in April.
  3. Plan a menu for the remaining two+ weeks of the month.
  4. Lose 3 more pounds by May, which will officially put me in the 140s!
  5. Track my spending for the second half of the month.
Hope you are all doing well!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Taxes & other miscellany

Sorry I've been off track with my posting lately. I was out of town for a couple of days, busy doing our taxes, & trying to get our summer planned out. I've just discovered that our preschool will be closed in August. Hmmmmmm.. . . That should make childcare very interesting this summer. I've looked into other possibilities, but so far they are all half day programs & we need something full time. Another day, another challenge.

I must admit. . . I have not been tracking my spending this month, and judging by my credit card statement, that's caught up with me. I haven't made any huge purchases (still on the clothing/shoes/makeup spending ban for the year), but the money is definitely trickling out at a faster rate than I would like. Now is the time for me to get back on the wagon & change that. Tracking is important for me to feel like we're spending our money on things that we value, versus spending it mindlessly & frivolously.

On that note, we owe nearly $10K in taxes. Yikes. M & I are going to discuss options for paying that tonight. Always a good time.

I'll be back with my end of the month wrap up shortly. Hope the beginning of spring is treating you all very well!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

3/23 - Fitness & Nutrition

Q&A - what did you have for breakfast this morning? Are you a die hard breakfast eater like I am? Today I had a little bit of sauteed spinach (had to use the last of  giant Costco bag) with an egg on an English muffin. Plus 1/2 a laughing cow. Yum.

I'm planning to change my blog up a bit & just posting the calorie recaps + workout & fruits/vegetables. It will still keep me on track, but I don't want to put anyone to sleep with the minutiae of my life.

Total calories = 1550 :-(

15 minutes running
30 minutes elliptical

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

3/22 - Fitness & Nutrition

Q&A -

oatmeal + 1/2 tbsp peanut butter + blueberries - 180
coffee + milk + fiber - 30

Protein bar - 170

Lunch (Panera):
Half fuji chicken salad + Half mediterranean veggie sandwich - 560

nectarine - 80

Balsamic chicken spinach salad with cottage cheese as the dressing - 350
1/2 serving nuts/dried fruit - 75

Total = 1445
Fruit/vegetables = 3/6

30 minutes on the treadmill - ran 1.5 miles, walked 1.2 miles

One 401K loan is paid off!

I am very, very excited to finally be able to say that my 401K loan is paid off! It took forever for the money to clear various places & for Fidelity to finally show a zero balance on the loan/and credit my 401K with the funds, but it's all straightened out. Yes!

Loan History:
As background, we each took out a loan in March of last year for $49,500 (x2 - one out of each 401K) and we used that money to prepay part of our home mortgage, so we could combine both home loans (vacation property & primary residence) into one loan to secure a far better rate. The loans were absolutely the right choice from a financial perspective, but I hated having it around. Unfortunately, the loan terms did not allow for any additional payments unless you had enough to pay the entire remaining balance, which made it hard to chip away at it.

Paying it off:
The payment for paying off the loan (a little over $41K) was made by cobbling together money from various sources. I had a savings account where I stashed all extra funds, which totaled about $15K. But, the big money came from an unexpected bonus M received. The money I was able to save came directly from cutting spending in other areas: hair cuts for me, random shopping, meals out, trimming back groceries, and really just paying much closer attention to where our money went. I'm shocked by how much we were able to save just by really tracking how we were spending our income.

Net worth update:
Paying off this loan is a double whammy for our net worth. Not only does it decrease our liabilities by a huge chunk, but it also immediately transfers over to our assets, because the funds were automatically applied to my 401K, resulting in a $80Kish growth in our net worth. Now that's the kind of progress I like to see!

What's up next:
Next up on our list of financial goals is to pay off M's 401K loan. It's for the same amount, and the same rules apply with regard to pre-payment. His balance is currently hovering around $41K. We're going to apply the same savings principles that we used for my loan, and also apply any unexpected funds (from work, investments, etc) to our savings account until we have enough to pay it off.

After that, our goal is to clear our 2nd mortgage, which has a current balance of $185K.

Our financial situation will be undergoing a few shifts in the next several years. One of our biggest expenses at the moment is child care for the boys (we're paying about $2K/month - down from an all time high of $4K/month when they were infants). My oldest son will enter Kindergarten in the fall, and my youngest son will be in Kindergarten in fall of 2012. Both of these things will eventually reduce our childcare payments to about $600/month, as we will still need after school care. We're toying with the idea of purchasing a rental property once we clear the 401K loans & our second mortgage. I'd like to create other income streams, and now seems like an excellent time to invest in real estate. We qualify for excellent rates, we have stable incomes, and property value has dropped drastically.

Our ultimate goal is to hit a net worth of $1M by the end of 2012. If we pay off M's 401K loan soon, that will create another increase of $80K (again, the reduction in our liabilities combined with the money immediately transferring to our assets), which makes the number look doable.

Wrap Up:
I'll be posting a big end of the month wrap up as usual, but I couldn't resist updating our net worth for today.

Net worth as of 3/1 - $815,065
Net worth as of 3/22 - $896,594

Total change in net worth: +$81,529!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

3/21 - Fitness & Nutrition

Q&A - happy spring! The weather was lovely over the weekend (cold but clear) & I'm very ready for spring to arrive & an opportunity to be outside more. What's your favorite season?

Weight = 152.8. Down a tiny bit from my weigh in earlier last week

1 piece toast + egg + 1/2 laughing cow - 170
coffee + milk + fiber - 30
strawberries - 30

dried fruit/nuts - 150

edamame - 150
egg salad (made with greek yogurt - no mayo) - 75
Dr Kracker - 100
roasted vegetables - 50
bread with tomato/cheese - 100

frozen yogurt + mini oreos + granola - 180

cottage cheese - 100
roasted broccoli - 50
1 pc wheat bread with egg salad - 150
edamame - 145

Total = 1400
Fruit/Vegetables = 3/5

36 minutes on the treadmill. 3.10 miles running, .14 walking.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

3/20 - Fitness & Nutrition

Q&A - What's on your menu for the week? Are you trying any new recipes?
Weight = weighing in on Monday

english muffin + 1/2 laughing cow + egg - 230
coffee + milk + fiber - 30
strawberries & blueberries - 60

fruit smoothie - 160

handful of nuts - 80
cottage cheese - 100
edamame - 150
1/2 banana wheat germ muffin - 80

pear - 80
1 homemade taco salad - 300
Skinny margarita- 100

Total = 1370
Fruit/Vegetables = 6/5

30 minutes on the treadmill running/walking
30 minutes on the elliptical