Month: November 2015 (Page 1 of 2)

Northern Expenditure Retirement Soundbite

Happy Monday everyone! I hope your weekend was pie-filled and celebratory in meaningful ways. This Monday we’re doing something a bit different. Steve over at Think Save Retire issued a challenge to record a one-minute retirement sound bite. He posted an example (so fun to hear voices!). I started recording mine and suddenly it became a full afternoon of recording all the kids being crazy. Laughter ensued. While I cut most of that out to stay close to one minute, the family is all present. Enjoy our voices and we’ll be back to normal on Wednesday with our November plan update!

(music from Bensound.com)

Retirement Soundbite

‘Enough’ is a Feast

In the United States, yesterday was Thanksgiving. It is a day we traditionally gather with family and eat turkey, mashed potatoes, yams, green beans, rolls, stuffing, and just as many pies! It is a day in which we are supposed to give thanks, celebrate the harvest, and rejoice in the cornucopia of abundance we have. Unfortunately, today in the United States is also a holiday of sorts where people go out at unreasonable times to wait in long lines to buy more stuff. Over the years, stores have opened earlier and earlier on Black Friday (as it is called) with several stores now starting sales on Thanksgiving evening… giving us just enough time to stuff our faces and run out the door to buy more stuff. No time for the giving of thanks.

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Research Says: Be Grateful!

English writer G. K. Chesterton penned: “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” 

If you are capable of thankful thoughts, you are elevating your thinking to its highest possible form. And “happiness doubled by wonder” sounds like a pretty great state to achieve. There are no downsides to being grateful. It helps you keep perspective of what you have already and stop wanting more. Gratitude fills the void of want.

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How We Turned Unemployment Into a Game. And Won!

January 2009 found Mr. T graduated and thrown into a pool of software developers without jobs. Unfortunately for him, he also had no full-time experience. He found himself applying for the same entry-level jobs for which people with 10-15 years of experience were also applying. Everyone was desperate. I wasn’t much help since I was still a graduate student working on my thesis and Penny was less than one year old. To help expedite Mr. T’s job offers, we moved into my parents’ beach house on the Oregon coast so Mr. T could be within driving distance of the Portland and Seattle metro areas. Within a month of moving in, all the big tech companies in Oregon and Washington had announced layoffs. What we thought would be a 2-4 week stay in the beach house became a more permanent housing situation as we faced the uncertainty ahead. We counted ourselves among the 30+% of millennials living with parents (though not technically with my parents).

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Sex and Money in Marriage

“It’s okay. We just kissed a little. No big deal.” I can’t imagine Mr. T would take that well if it ever came up in a conversation. We know honesty in marriage is important. And we know that cheating is wrong. But somehow, finances get left out of those discussions. Did you know there is a term called “financial infidelity”? Do you know what it means? Secrets. Money and sex are tricky. We like them, but we don’t like talking about them. When we get married, we just expect both to happen without discussing either of them. But there’s one difference: with sex, we know there shouldn’t be any secrets. In money, there isn’t a consensus about secrets. In fact, 33% of people admitted lying to their spouses about finances. And that’s just the people that admitted it!

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Financial Ethics

Money is an interesting thing. While it is an amazing tool to help you reach your dreams, it is also the root of suicide, homicide, divorce, and family divisions. If you want to bring out the absolute worst in people, buy them a winning lottery ticket. It turns out winning the lottery is a horrible thing for most people. Money makes us crazy. 

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First Job? $23,500 is a Magic Number!

Yes, Mr. T and I are on the road to financial awesomeness. But our road is different and complicated because we’re already down a path. So we have to chip our path over to the one of financial awesomeness. We already got a job, bought a house, and started living on nearly all the income we made. Those things don’t allow for a simple path. But what about you? I hear you are about to get your first job out of college! Congrats! That’s an exciting adjustment! I bet you’re looking forward to actually making real money! And guess what? I have great news for you! Your path to financial awesomeness is completely simple! Let me tell you about the magic number:$23,500. Let me suggest that you take whatever offer you are given for your next job and subtract $23,500. Just pretend it isn’t part of the package. Wait, wait, WAIT! Hear me out before you walk away. I’m only asking for FIVE YEARS. I know, that may be nearly half of your offer. But how much money were you making in college? Isn’t that still an improvement? Before you decide, let me show you just what $23,500 can do in five years and why that number is so magic.

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Our Road to Financial Awesomeness

The Personal Finance blogging world is full of posts on which order you should contribute to retirement funds, the Roth vs Traditional IRA debate, even arguments about whether paying off your mortgage early makes the most financial sense. Here at Northern Expenditure, we don’t pretend to know what’s best, and we are big proponents of the best financial plan being the one you’ll actually do! If you read early retirement blogs, you know that most of these people are saving over 50% of their incomes, maxing out 401ks, IRAs, and Health Savings Accounts with savings left over to dump into brokerage funds. This is not us. First of all, we don’t love the savings percentages, because they are heavily biased toward making a lot of money. Though our goal may eventually be to hit that 50% savings mark, that would leave us a lot less to live on (for a family of five!) than people that make sometimes triple what we make. But this blog is about encouragement. Even us… a family of five that make significantly less than $100,000/year can achieve financial independence! And so can you!

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Introducing… Penny!

Though Frugalwoods is no longer running the Frugal Hound Sniffs series, our daughter, Penny, decided she wanted to answer the questions anyway. These questions were meant to be written by the pet of a blogger, so Penny thought they were funny. Here is her interview with Frugal Hound:

Penny2

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How Much Do Groceries Cost in Alaska?

The Average Cost of Food in Alaska

To determine the average price of groceries in Alaska and the U.S. as a whole, we’ll turn to data from the USDA. Each month, the USDA publishes a national “Cost of Food Report” for the month prior to publication. September 2015’s Cost of Food Report showed that for a family of 4 with two kids ages 6-8 and 9-11, the “liberal food plan” was $1294.40 a month. The “thrifty plan” was half that at $651.90/month. (For a family of two ages 19-50, the “thrifty plan” is $389.60/month and the “liberal plan” is $776/month.)

Alaska and Hawaii warrant an entirely separate report that is published semi-annually, and only the “thrifty plan” is calculated. The most recent report showed that for that same family of four, the thrifty meal plan in Alaska costs $772.90/month. (Hawaii was $1125.70/month! Ouch! Maybe I shouldn’t complain so much…)

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