How to Save Money on Healthcare

How to Save Money on Healthcare

It’s not easy to save money on healthcare in the United States. The status of healthcare is up in the air and the functionality of the healthcare system is abysmal. It makes no sense and keeps costing more money. For a really good overview of all the problems and possible solutions, I highly recommend Elisabeth Rosenthal’s book, An American Sickness. It uses many, many real life examples and ends with a plan of action on how to solve the problem with many tips on things you can do. Some of the ideas listed in this post are from there, others are ones I’ve encountered in my own research.

Save Money on Healthcare

Here are some actionable things you can do to try to help keep your health bills down:

Talk To Your Doctor

When you are given a prescription, ask about it. What does it do? Why do I need it? Is there a generic available? If a test is ordered for you, ask why. Ask what would change based on the outcome of the test. Many, many tests will return an abnormal reading that would not have been noticed without the test. Most of these abnormalities would never cause problems, but once discovered, are most likely to be treated. Now you’re stuck paying the test fees and the unnecessary treatment fees as well.

Add an “In-Network” Stipulation

This is one of my favorite tips from Rosenthal. A new trend is happening in the United States where a hospital will be in your insurance network but then you’ll get outrageous out-of-network bills from the doctors that treat you in that same hospital. When you’re in the hospital, they will have you sign a form that says you’re accepting financial responsibility for the treatment you receive in the hospital. On this form add a statement like: “I only accept financial responsibility for charges from providers that are in my insurance network.” As Rosenthal argues, this may not make the charges go away, but it gives you some clout when they do come and you argue them.

Negotiate

Always ask doctors if they offer up-front or cash discounts. A friend of mine had no maternity insurance a few years ago when she was going to have a baby. She called the two hospitals in town and asked how much it would be to deliver a baby. She negotiated a rate and paid up front for further discounts. I’ve been offered discounts for paying in full before the procedure. I’ve also been offered a PFD special on one medical bill. You never know if there’s a discount unless you ask!

Take Your Medications as Prescribed

I’ve done a great deal of research on how expensive it is to not take your prescription medications. You may think you’re saving money by not paying for the pills, but you may end up paying a lot more for increased medical costs in the long-run, especially with chronic diseases. Also, maybe you think you can save money by only taking half of the prescribed dose. Half the dose doesn’t always mean half the effectiveness. In some medications, taking only half the does gives you NONE of the effectiveness. If you’re given a course of antibiotics, take the WHOLE course. Sure, you’ll probably feel great on day 3, but you have to take it ALL. Why? Because if you don’t, you are only helping the problem of antibiotic resistance get worse! Again, you should always check with your doctor if there is a generic that would work as well for your situation.

Know Your Benefits

Insurance companies do not make it easy to figure out what you should be paying when. Because of this, many people miss out on benefits they have they don’t know about. For example, in our insurance, we get a certain amount toward eye exams every year, but our eye insurance is a separate affiliate rather than the main insurer. My eye doctor bills my eye insurance, but my daughter’s eye doctor only bills my health insurance. When I get that bill back that says they won’t cover it, I have to call my eye insurance myself and send them the Explanation of Benefits to get my money back. It’s annoying, but it’s one example where knowing my benefits saves me money! Also, know when your plan year changes and when your deductible starts over. If you’re looking to get a mole removed and you’ve already hit your deductible for the year, go do it now instead of waiting until next plan year when you have to start paying that deductible again.

Use an HSA or HRSA

Health Savings Accounts or Healthcare Reimbursement Accounts are fundamentally different and if you have one, you don’t have access to the other. If your employer offers either one, it gives you the ability to put money in an account to pay for healthcare PRE-TAX. This can save you quite a bit of money even if you’re just using it to pay that year’s healthcare bills. Even at a 15% tax bracket, putting $1000 in one of those accounts that you’ll spend that year on healthcare anyway can save you $150 in taxes.

Make Healthy Choices

I conclude with this paragraph with a giant dose of caveat. Making healthy choices WILL NOT prevent you from all illnesses, but there are definitely many you can avoid by not smoking, eating healthy, and walking. Be active. Be smart. We’ll all get sick anyway, but we can improve our chances of recovery when we do if we’re already making smart choices for our body.

Until this country figures out how to actually care about the patient, you’ll need to look out for yourself and your wallet!

Healthcare Costs: The Wild Card

Healthcare Costs: The Wild Card

I know you’ve probably read a million posts on this topic lately since the future of healthcare in the United States is so uncertain, but healthcare is a big topic in the preparation for retirement, so let’s look at our situation:

Retirement Healthcare Cost Estimates

A recent Fidelity analysis estimates that healthcare will cost $275,000 per couple. This estimate only includes ages 65-88 at the latest. That averages out to $11,957 a year! Say you retire at 40 and live until 100 and spend the same amount of money annually, you’re looking at a whopping estimate of $717,420! Do I think this is reality? No idea. The answer is that we have LITERALLY NO IDEA what healthcare will look like in the United States until we die. That makes planning for it in calculations really, really hard.

Healthcare Matters

It’s my theory that by 35 or 40 everyone has some weird health thing they have to deal with. Health is up there with money in the “Don’t Talk About in Public” list of topics in our society. We need to talk about it. In our house, I’m the sick one. In February, doctors finally figured out that I have Supercolon (pretty cool diagnosis, amiright?). Basically, this means that I have one of the longest, twistiest colons of all time. Food gets caught in the folds and ferments and that leads to bloating. Painful, “are you pregnant?,” can’t stand up or walk type of bloating. I am lucky that I don’t have to put on work clothes and sit at a desk every day pretending I’m fine when I’m not. In fact, on one work trip, I couldn’t even make it 3 days sitting at a desk. I had to duck out early and go work from my hotel bed. Many, many people don’t have that option. They are stuck at work with any number of terrible symptoms and have to pretend they are fine.

When we talk about health insurance, sure we’re talking about the people that “did this to themselves,” but more importantly (and WAY more abundantly), we’re talking about your friends and relatives and co-workers that are struggling with IBS, fibromyalgia, cancer, supercolon, etc. When we talk about healthcare, we’re also talking about the family that just lost their daughter to juvenile cancer and now are faced with hundreds of thousands of dollars of healthcare bills. Instead of having time to grieve, they have to buck up and figure out how to bail themselves out financially from their daughter’s death.

Estimating Our Family’s Healthcare Costs

If Mr. T leaves his job (or gets laid-off), we would be out of his sweet, sweet employer-based healthcare plan and be left to fend for ourselves out in the uncertain healthcare world. Alaska is one of the 5 states that only has one insurer on the health insurance exchange. We also have 3 kids to cover. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s insurance marketplace calculator, in the current Obamacare environment, we’re looking at $36,584 for a silver plan without subsidies. If the subsidies also remain, that plan would cost us $3,000-$11,000 per year for our family depending on income ($11,000 with current income, $3,000 if we cut our income in half). Also, keep in mind these are just insurance costs. Actual out-of-pocket healthcare costs will be added on top of this!

Now, if Obamacare goes away, we could be on the hook for that full $36,584. Even worse, we could have to start worrying about whether or not we could get insurance at all depending on what pre-existing conditions we have by then (supercolon? check. Others? undetermined).

Healthcare in Later Years

Now, adding to all that uncertainty is the uncertainty of healthcare as old people. Sure, the kids will be on their own for healthcare by that point, but Mr. T and I will be aging and that raises costs significantly. The future is so uncertain!

Honestly, healthcare is one of the main reasons Mr. T is sticking with his job. Leaving with 3 kids and having to navigate the uncertain healthcare waters with dependent children scares us. If this was no longer a fear, I think we would be working toward him leaving his job a whole lot sooner!

Coming Wednesday: Ways to Save Money on Healthcare now.

What are your healthcare calculations for the future?

How Entrepreneurship is Like Dipnetting

How Entrepreneurship is Like Dipnetting

On Monday, I shared our dipnetting experience this year. Collectively, we caught 21. My contribution: 1. That’s right. I caught 1 salmon and spent nearly the same amount of time in the water as Mr. T. Since I had a lot of time to think about stuff as I was carrying my net and not catching fish, I realized our entrepreneurship journey is actually a lot like dipnetting (you all missed my analogies this summer. Admit it!). Here’s how:

Nets Out of Water Don’t Catch Fish

I really wanted to catch fish. And I did take breaks when I got tired. But I also knew that if I stayed out of the water, I literally had no chance of catching a single fish. If you never try your project, you’ll never succeed. If you don’t apply for the job, you’ll never get it. You actually have to put your net in the water and see what happens. Is there a chance you’ll catch nothing? Yes. Is there a chance your net will break and you’ll be out some money? If you paid for your net, yes. Is it also possible you’ll be the one person in the water that catches 20 fish? Yes! And you won’t know until you try.

Try 3 More Times When You Want to Quit

I recently read Think and Grow Rich. I didn’t love it, personally, because it read like a giant infomercial, but the entire point of the book is that the people who succeed are the people who try just a bit longer. When other people quit, they try just a few more times before giving up and then find crazy success. Will this always be the case? No. But when I was fishing and not catching anything, I got tired. It’s tiring not succeeding (and watching other people succeed). When I wanted to quit, I told myself: “I’ll do 3 more passes and then I’m done.” On the second pass, I caught my 1 fish!

Success Compounds

Sure, I only caught 1 fish, but you know what? After I caught that 1 fish, everyone on the beach cheered. Literally. (This is why I love dipnetting. Everyone knew I hadn’t caught yet.) And even though I only had 1 more pass in the 3 passes I promised myself, I lasted another hour after I caught a fish! The reward of success helps make the hard work worth it. It’s hard to slog through the cold water with a heavy net when you don’t see results.

Keep Reasonable Expectations

Mr. T and I dabble in entrepreneurial efforts, but we honestly don’t seek to create a million dollar company. That sounds like way more stress than our lives currently have and that’s not the point. When it came to fishing, we knew the fish counts were low. If we still expected to catch a ton of fish, we would have been really disappointed with our 21. As it was, we did really, really well and we were super happy with our 21. It’s good to set big goals, but it’s also good to celebrate the wins along the way and make sure your expectations are reasonable. Online, we mostly only hear about people that are huge, wealthy successes in entrepreneurship. My guess is that for every 1 of them, there are 100 others that are doing pretty well and changing their lives through entrepreneurship. They’re paying their mortgages with profits and plugging along.

Why Entrepreneurship?

Honestly, dipnetting is a great example of why we want a life of entrepreneurship. We want to be able to cover our bills, work together, work while the kids are in school, and be able to take off to dipnet or travel whenever we want without too much work getting in the way. Again, we aren’t looking to be the next internet stars of entrepreneurship. We just want to make our lives simpler while the kids are at home, pay off our mortgage, and pay for travel.

Are any of you paying your bills with your own business? If not, do you seek to do so?

Dipnetting 2017: The Year With Less Fish

Dipnetting 2017: The Year With Less Fish

Our annual dipnetting trip this year was out of the ordinary. First off, the fish weren’t there. Usually the fish come in droves around July 15-17. We went down on July 17-18 and the fish still weren’t there. Here’s a graph comparing this year’s sockeye salmon run numbers throughout July and August (the red line) and last year’s numbers (the black line). See that big spike in the black line where it dips in the red? Yeah. That’s  when we went fishing. It got so weird that they even talked about shutting down dipnetting for awhile to let more salmon get up the river, and the counts finally rose a week later only when they shut down the commercial fishery for a few days.

Fish Counts

Despite the lack of fish in the river, we actually did quite well. We caught 21 salmon and they were pretty big this year. (I only caught 1 and Mr. T caught 20… but his net is significantly longer, so he was the only one in our group that actually managed to catch any fish.)

As we camped on the beach, the rain came in full swing and Lui woke up around 3AM crying: “It’s raining on me.” Then we realized our tent was soaking wet and absolutely raining all over from the ceiling (what the heck… seriously!?). So when we got home, our house was covered in all of our stuff drying out (camping chairs, pads, sleeping bags, pillows, tents, etc.). But we lived to tell the tale and had a pretty great time anyway!

Dipnetting: The Numbers

The Costs:

  • $10 – Dropoff fee. You have to pay to unload your car right by the beach. It’s still cheaper than the $55 fee to overnight park. We unload, park a mile away for free and then ride an old bike back.
  • $25 – Camping fee for 1 night.
  • $58 – 2 fishing licenses for Mr. T and I.
  • $41.98 – FoodSaver bags for freezing the fillets.
  • $19.74 – Ice to keep the fish cool.
  • $59.40 – The charge to professionally smoke 10.8 lbs of salmon (nearly 8 lbs left over from last year’s catch from the freezer).
  • $40 – Gas for the trip there and back.

TOTAL: $254.12

Our 21 salmon totaled 1,058 oz or 66 lbs 2 oz. – That means our total price per pound this year was $3.84/lb. We’ve certainly done better (compare dipnetting 2015 and dipnetting 2016), but again, we did pretty good for the circumstances and we’re definitely happy with our haul.

Our smallest fillet was 12 oz and our largest was a whopping 42 oz!

Despite the circumstances, dipnetting is still my absolutely favorite. It’s such a great communal experience. One guy caught a gigantic King salmon in his net (like the size of Lui) and the whole beach erupted in cheering when he pulled it out. When I hadn’t caught anything for like an hour and finally caught my one fish, many strangers cheered as well because they noticed I hadn’t caught. It’s so great.

Every year when I’m dipnetting, I think: “I’m never leaving Alaska. This is the greatest place ever” and I get to remember that feeling weekly when we eat a salmon fillet for dinner.

How does $3.84/lb compare to what you pay for salmon?

Living More in the Present: A Success Story

Living More in the Present: A Success Story

As I stepped away from the blog this summer, my focus was on enjoying the moment more. Sometimes being so involved in this community of awesome optimizers and hustlers becomes a whirlwind of motion. It’s good and it triggers important change, but sometimes it’s hard to really focus on the progress we’ve already made and enjoy what we have now.

Living More in the Present this Summer

This summer, I stepped back from pumping out posts on optimizing your finances or seeking entrepreneurship. I only calculated my expenses at the end of each month for the monthly plan updates and only checked my accounts a few other times each month. I stopped actively following all my favorite blogs (though would often binge because I can’t stay away for too long!). In short, I stepped back from the current hustle and started living more in the present. The break was tremendous and I learned a great deal. Here are a few things I learned:

  1. We’re on the Moving Sidewalk – I’m (Rockstar Finance) famous for saying the path to Financial Independence is like a sprint followed by a rest on a moving sidewalk. When I originally penned that post, I assumed I was still a few years away from enjoying that moving sidewalk. In reality, we’ve done our version of sprinting for the past 2 years since starting this blog. We’ve hustled, cut costs, set up savings, and attacked our mortgage. We got tired. In reality, because we’ve done all that, we’re already enjoying that moving sidewalk when we take a break from actively caring. Our mortgage keeps going down and our investments keep going up. It’s brilliant!
  2. We’re Incredibly Lucky – Our situation is already fantastic. We really have a great set-up. I get to be home with the kids all day every day. I don’t have to force myself to sit up at a desk job when my chronic health issues kick in (a full post on this coming later). Mr. T has incredible flexibility and lots of vacation time. We are incredibly privileged.
  3. We’ve Already Learned So Much – We still love the idea of being self-employed and having total autonomy over our own schedules and we haven’t made much significant headway there, but we have learned a whole lot already. We’ve learned all sorts of random skills along the way and learned what we enjoy and what we don’t enjoy. I feel like this whole thing has been like going to college in entrepreneurship and we’re getting closer and closer to graduation.
  4. I Need to Spend More Money Now – We’re not that close to financial independence, but we’re on that moving sidewalk. My kids, however, get older every single day. I have so much I still want to do with them. Now is the time. If you’re on the email list, you already know we’re venturing to Europe with the kids next summer. We’re going to take them on a 3-week trip through the UK, Norway, and Iceland. I’m SO EXCITED. We spent this summer letting the kids pick castles in Wales they want to explore, museums they want to check out in Oslo, and reading histories and guidebooks together. Most people have to wait until financial independence to do this kind of thing, but we can do it now. Mr. T has the flexibility and vacation time. I’m a freelancer so can choose to take a month off whenever I choose. These are the kinds of experiences I plan to focus on in the next 9 years before Penny graduates.
  5. Maybe We Have Happiness All Wrong – We always think our lives would be so much better elsewhere or doing something else. We get frustrated and immediately declare something drastic: “We’re retiring early.” Now, if you’re as far away from that possibility as we are, long-term planning for it isn’t a bad idea (at this rate, we’ll retire long before 65 just plugging along as we currently are), but focusing all efforts towards it misses the point. Maybe changing just one thing in your life can make all the difference. What would being 20% happier do for you?
  6. I’m Not Going Away – For now, I have enough passion and stuff to say that I am resuming my previous Monday/Wednesday posting (with an occasional Friday image by Mr. T or guest post). I love this space. I love all of you. I truly, truly do. I have a plan for another website based on my survey, but I decided I don’t want to do that one alone, so it may not get up and running for awhile. So, I’ll start sharing some info from that awesome survey here as well.
  7. I’m Always Prepared to Mix Things Up – When I get in a funk, I reserve the right to mix up everything. A step away this summer was exactly what I needed. Sometimes we need to get out of the water to see how truly beautiful the lake is.

Have you learned lessons in living more in the present lately? I’d love to hear yours!

August 2017 Plan Update

August 2017 Plan Update

Hello, dear readers! Welcome back to our regularly scheduled blogging program!

This summer has been glorious. And August was no exception. We started the month in Disneyland with the family and then headed to the Seattle area for a week where we spent 3 entire days swimming, kayaking, and paddle-boarding in lakes. It was amazing. The month ended with all 3 kids in school.

This was a particularly expensive month for us with some plane tickets being purchased, but I’m super excited about all things ahead!


The Numbers:

Want to know how easy it is for us to write these every month? I literally just log into my Personal Capital and revel in all the numbers being in one place. Do you like checking numbers? Do you like graphics? Do you like playing with calculators like retirement calculators and how much your fees are costing you? Then, you should obviously use my affiliate link to Sign up here to help yours truly speed toward financial independence! (Also feel free to read my more in-depth review of Personal Capital.)

Our mortgage is below $40,000 ($39,920 to be exact)! Woo hoo! Only 3 more of those milestones and then IT’S DEAD! With the expensive flights we purchased this month, we probably won’t be contributing much extra next month to save up a bit again, but I’m still super happy about the direction this is headed! We’ve been able to pay this down just over $50,000 in just over 2 years. I feel pretty great about that.

Investments are now at $166,190. Markets took a few dives, but ended up slightly higher. It’s not looking like we’ll crack $200,000 this year but it’s great to see these climb consistently while we live our lives.

For our savings percentage, we track the percentage of our pre-tax (or gross) income and the extra payments put toward the mortgage are included in the amount saved. Savings percentage for August – 51%. This is why I don’t think this is a great metric. We didn’t actually save any more… but we earned less, so our percentage looks good.

2017 Financial Goal Update:

  • Earn $25,000 – ($19,853/$25,000) –  This is mainly my main job as they have delayed paychecks. I was gone for a lot of the month, so these are last month’s paychecks. No freelancing this month. Next month’s income will be lower.
  • Mortgage Balance below $30,000 – (Currently at $39,920 – less than $10k to go! WOO HOO!)
  • Max out Mr. T’s 401k – This is set up already and if nothing changes, he should automatically max it out this year for the first time! Yay for automatic payments!
  • Put $5500 into My Roth IRA – $0 progress so far.
  • $2500 in other investments – $0 progress so far.
  • $200,000 Investment Balance by the end of the year – Seems like it would take a market miracle to get us another $34k by the end of the year. Again, I wasn’t ever really tied to this one because it’s entirely market based.

Notable Expenses This Month: The Story Our Money Tells:

These are expenses that tell an interesting story. A peek into our lives through our pocketbook:

  • $2,479.48 – This covers all 5 of us from the UK to Anchorage via Norway and Iceland next summer.
  • $285 – Another 20 Cambodian lessons.
  • $254.40 – The eye doctor for Florin. She’s graduated from glasses and is loving her glasses-free life.
  • $451.39 – Food at DisneyLand.
  • $65.55 – Shuttle from Disney to the airport.
  • $103.86 – School supplies and clothes and shoes for the kids.
  • $85 – Lui’s preschool tuition for the ENTIRE YEAR. It was amazing we got him into this special preschool program. Our wallets thank us.

EXTRA INCOME (anything that doesn’t come from our jobs/my freelance work):

  • $1.05 – Bookscouter Affiliate Link
  • $100 – Reader sign-ups through my Personal Capital links. Thank you!
  • $39.07 – Selling shirts online. Most of this was a delayed check from Mr. T selling a shirt on Woot for a week.
  • $8.32 – Affiliate payments from myFinance (those links at the bottom of the posts).

Financial Phrases:

These are things said by actual people that were either talking to me or near me enough that I could hear them:

  • “Preschool is costing our kid $270/month?! I don’t remember agreeing to this!”
  • “She said the kayaks at her house kept multiplying. She told her husband she was okay with him buying a kayak, but then every week another one appeared.”
  • “She said: ‘Just use my guy. He only costs $50/hour.’ That’s less than I make. My time is literally worth less than that. I’m free!”
July 2017 Alaska Plan Update

July 2017 Plan Update

Another July has come and gone. Isn’t summer glorious?

We caught 21 salmon despite there being very few fish in the water and we got rained on (inside our tent!). Full dipnetting adventure story coming in the fall. (I know, you can’t wait!).

Guess where we are right now! DisneyLand! I know. Living the magic. Seriously.

Also this month, my parents received a mission call to Leeds, England. They’ll be leaving in November for a year and a half, so we’re taking the kids to Europe next summer! I can’t explain how excited about this I am. Dream come true. For reals. I’ll be talking lots about our preparations come fall/winter.

The weekly email updates keep coming all summer long, so sign up to find out all the happenings!


The Numbers:

Want to know how easy it is for us to write these every month? I literally just log into my Personal Capital and revel in all the numbers being in one place. Do you like checking numbers? Do you like graphics? Do you like playing with calculators like retirement calculators and how much your fees are costing you? Then, you should obviously use my affiliate link to Sign up here to help yours truly speed toward financial independence! (Also feel free to read my more in-depth review of Personal Capital.)

Our mortgage is currently at $41,800. I’d love to see this below $40,000 next month. I’m more chill about the mortgage this month… the benefit of taking a step back for a bit (also the benefit of being able to go to EUROPE next year with all 5 of us… that’ll take some dough).

Investments are back on the upswing. To be clear, we just haven’t prioritized the Roth IRAs this year. I’m not making excuses. I’d rather kill the mortgage and I can’t do it all. So… that’s gone by the wayside. This is why personal finance is personal. I realize contributing would be really awesome of us. But I just don’t feel it right now. And that’s the best answer I’ve got. Despite that, our total investments sit at $163,400 right now. It feels pretty good to see these climb by default (automatic savings from Mr. T’s paycheck).

For our savings percentage, we track the percentage of our pre-tax (or gross) income and the extra payments put toward the mortgage are included in the amount saved. Savings percentage for July – 38%. For not really paying much attention to saving and buying some plane tickets, I think this is pretty decent.

2017 Financial Goal Update:

  • Earn $25,000 – ($17,902/$25,000) –  This was a pretty big month for me. I did quite a bit of freelancing and got the paycheck for my work trip in June for my regular job, so I’m looking pretty lucrative these days. 🙂
  • Mortgage Balance below $30,000 – (Currently at $41,800 – $11,800 to go!)
  • Max out Mr. T’s 401k – This is set up already and if nothing changes, he should automatically max it out this year for the first time! Yay for automatic payments!
  • Put $5500 into My Roth IRA – $0 progress so far.
  • $2500 in other investments – $0 progress so far.
  • $200,000 Investment Balance by the end of the year – This is looking possible. I’m not super committed to this goal because it’s market-based, but with these bonkers markets, maybe we’ll successfully get $37k-ish by the end of the year!

Notable Expenses This Month: The Story Our Money Tells:

These are expenses that tell an interesting story. A peek into our lives through our pocketbook:

  • $28 – Cash price for award tickets from New York to London. I’ll piece together the other legs of next year’s trip later.
  • $204.30 – Travel backpacks for the girls. They’re going to be in charge of their own stuff. It’s going to be awesome.
  • $254.12 – All dipnetting costs (again, breakdown coming in September!)
  • $11.99 – A slingshot Mr. T purchased for a slingshot paintball game with some friends but we’ve all had a great time with in our own yard!
  • $21.99 – Melatonin – We usually go through about 2 bottles a summer. With the sun up all night, the kids need a little help shutting the brains off. #AlaskaLife
  • $49.98 – We bought a Kindle and a kid proof case for Lui on Prime Day in preparation of next year’s really really long flights. The girls already have their own.
  • $149 – A new phone. Because I broke mine a few months ago. Then I shattered the screen on my mother-in-law’s old phone I was using. Mr. T put packaging tape on it so the little shards wouldn’t get in my ear when I’m talking on the phone. I can’t have nice things.
  • $778.45 – Airplane tickets for FINCON! Everyone excited?! I’m so pumped!

EXTRA INCOME (anything that doesn’t come from our jobs/my freelance work):

Financial Phrases:

These are things said by actual people that were either talking to me or near me enough that I could hear them:

  • “My brother keeps saying, ‘ just start a blog and people will click on your links and you’ll make plenty of money,’ but he is thinking like an already-wealthy doctor. We need health insurance.”
  • “The problem with entrepreneurs is they don’t share all the little steps it took to get to where they made it. Sometimes they probably don’t even know which steps those were.”
  • “They have secretary day and office manager day. But they never have computer programmer day! And we always have to chip in for those parties or birthday parties and they don’t throw a party for everyone and then it causes all sorts of drama.”
June 2017 Plan Update

June 2017 Plan Update

June was awesome and a great leap into summer. It kicked off with our first vacation. We headed to Portland for a few days and dropped the kids off with my parents while Tom and I headed to Utah for a business trip. Though we both spent most of the trip working, we were able to see some sites and enjoy ourselves. As soon as we returned, I helped run a 4-day camp-out for 16 teenage girls from church. We camped by the bay, saw whales, fished all night, hiked to old World War II sites, cooked delicious food in dutch ovens, ate a million S’mores, found some awesome shells, avoided bears, and had absolutely perfect weather. Overall successful.

The second half of the month, we just enjoyed summer. I delivered lunch to the kiddos outside nearly every day it wasn’t raining. Mr. T finished planting a few more things in the garden (zucchini and pumpkins) and started replacing the countertop and backsplash in the master bathroom. Lui is working on figuring out his new balance bike (a free hand-me-down from a friend). It’s been a tremendous month.

The blog break has been good and while I’m super excited to return twice a week, I’m forcing myself to continue the break as promised through August, but will be back full-force in September. I’m using the time to catch up on some other projects including my totally awesome survey. If you haven’t taken it yet, go do it now! We have over 600 responses now. (Also, I would LOVE to get another 500+ responses from a non-PF-geek population. If you have any great ideas on how to do that, PLEASE SHARE! – and thanks to those of you that shared it on your personal Facebook pages!).

You may miss me weekly here on the blog, but my Saturday e-mails are heating up. I still send those out weekly and LOVE to interact off-blog.



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The Numbers:

Want to know how easy it is for us to write these every month? I literally just log into my Personal Capital and revel in all the numbers being in one place. Do you like checking numbers? Do you like graphics? Do you like playing with calculators like retirement calculators and how much your fees are costing you? Then, you should obviously use my affiliate link to Sign up here to help yours truly speed toward financial independence! (Also feel free to read my more in-depth review of Personal Capital.)

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May 2017 plan update

May 2017 Plan Update

Man, 2017 isn’t even half over and it’s been a crazy year. There’s been so much happening. With this in mind, I’ve decided that I will only be doing monthly plan updates on the blog until the beginning of September and then I’ll be back full force. I will, however, be sharing exclusive content in my weekly email newsletter all summer long, so sign up to find out all the happenings!



I’m also working on some stuff related to my totally awesome survey. If you haven’t taken it yet, go do it now! We have over 600 responses now. (Also, I would LOVE to get another 500+ responses from a non-PF-geek population. If you have any great ideas on how to do that, PLEASE SHARE!).

May was a great month for our family. School got out. We started our annual family bike rides (bike-to-work day and bike-to-school day are both very important holidays in our house!). Summer is glorious in Alaska and we’re definitely experiencing days where we are pretty sure we live in the greatest place in the world!

As for the numbers… it was pretty good. Not bad. See what you think:

The Numbers:

Want to know how easy it is for us to write these every month? I literally just log into my Personal Capital and revel in all the numbers being in one place. Do you like checking numbers? Do you like graphics? Do you like playing with calculators like retirement calculators and how much your fees are costing you? Then, you should obviously use my affiliate link to Sign up here to help yours truly speed toward financial independence! (Also feel free to read my more in-depth review of Personal Capital.)

Every few months, I get so frustrated with our mortgage, I just want it to DIE. I realize we’re doing really well. We have made incredible progress. Right now, it sits at $45,450. Being so close to $45,000 is amazing, but it also seems like we’re SO CLOSE! In our current plan, we pay it off at the end of 2018, so we’re on track for that… but if we could kill it sooner, I would be very happy about that!

Our investments continue in an uphill climb. I keep expecting a giant tumble (which is why I ran some calculations this month based on our current savings rates and looking at a smaller savings rate to see how market returns impact totals), but I won’t complain as things go up! We had a minor dip mid-month, but we’re ending on a high again. Our investments currently sit at $154,000 which also means we’ve surpassed $500/month in investment income assuming a 4% withdrawal.

For our savings percentage, we track the percentage of our pre-tax (or gross) income and the extra payments put toward the mortgage are included in the amount saved. Savings percentage for May – 50%. Anytime we break 50%, I’m thrilled! Yay us!

2017 Financial Goal Update:

  • Earn $25,000 – ($11,329/$25,000) – I picked up a one-time freelance research project that helped this month. I’m really enjoying the variety of work I’ve been doing this year (thanks, in part, to the pep talk I got from Revanche)!
  • Mortgage Balance below $30,000 – (Currently at $45,450! $14,450 to go! On track… and ready for this mortgage to be DEAD!)
  • Max out Mr. T’s 401k – This is set up already and if nothing changes, he should automatically max it out this year for the first time! Yay for automatic payments!
  • Put $5500 into My Roth IRA – $0 progress so far.
  • $2500 in other investments – $0 progress so far.
  • $200,000 Investment Balance by the end of the year – This is looking possible. I’m not super committed to this goal because it’s market-based, but with these bonkers markets, maybe we’ll successfully get $50k by the end of the year!

Notable Expenses This Month: The Story Our Money Tells:

These are expenses that tell an interesting story. A peek into our lives through our pocketbook:

  • FREE – Penny had two teeth extracted this month, so I took her for frosties as Wendys after the procedure. They made us wait at the counter for five minutes, so they just gave them to us for free.
  • $135.25 – The dental cost of the extractions.
  • $74 – A new bra at Nordstrom. Ladies, if you haven’t gone in to Nordstrom to be bra fitted, DO IT. I’ve never done this and I can tell you I’ve been wearing the total wrong size my entire life. $74 is a crazy expensive price for a bra, but the entire experience took TEN MINUTES. Worth it. Now I know my size and can shop much faster for other bras in the future.
  • $11.77 – Frozen Yogurt for myself and one of the teenage girls at Church that just broke up with her boyfriend.
  • $164 – CLOTHES! That’s right, after a HARROWING month of searching far and wide for some new clothes I like, I actually found some!
  • $42.21 – Edible Arrangement for Mr.T’s mom who just retired!
  • $48.99 – Date Night! We tried out Hard Rock Cafe downtown, saw a play (tickets purchased previously), and the finished splitting the Reese’s extreme blizzard at DQ (life-changing. That thing is amazing!).
  • $21.93 – Sharpies for an art project Mr. T is working on. (I can be talked into office supplies because that’s my Gazingus Pin. I love Sharpies.)

EXTRA INCOME (anything that doesn’t come from our jobs/my freelance work):

Financial Phrases:

These are things said by actual people that were either talking to me or near me enough that I could hear them:

  • “I took tomorrow off work so I could go up and start building my cabin. I rented a backhoe so I’ll be playing in the mud all weekend. The next four hours of work cannot go fast enough.”
  • From someone about to move to California: “Every time we sell something, I put the money in our Family DisneyLand tickets fund. Sold the couch. That’s one annual pass right there!”
How I use Evernote for Everything

How I Use Evernote to Organize Everything

Evernote is another free tool that I use extensively every single day. While Evernote is free (in the basic versions), I do recommend purchasing the basic version of Evernote Essentials. I paid full price for this guide to Evernote and it was totally worth every penny.

An Introduction to Evernote

Evernote is a note-taking service that is SO. MUCH. MORE. When you open an account, you start with just a blank slate and the ability to write notes and create notebooks (notes in notebooks and notebooks in notebook stacks is the filing system of Evernote). It’s basic. It’s easy. Maybe TOO basic and easy. This is where Evernote Essentials comes in. Brett Kelly tells you all the ins and outs and cool things you can do and how to get started so you don’t regret your notebook structure later. (Evernote actually hired him to work for them after his first version of the book!) Evernote allows you to write notes, lock notes, make checklists, clip websites directly, link with Google Drive, and a whole bunch of other cool stuff!

My Recipe Book on Evernote

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