Category: Personal Finance (Page 1 of 5)

Tracking Your Finances and Celebrating Wins!

Tracking Your Finances and Celebrating Wins!

If you’ve been around Northern Expenditure awhile, you’re probably aware that I like to celebrate. (If you follow me on Twitter, you’re aware I celebrate with dancing gifs!) If you don’t track, you can’t celebrate!

Tracking Your Finances:

It’s a new year (yay for new!) and it’s time to start tracking your finances FOR REAL this year. Here’s what you need:

  • Basic Budget Spreadsheet – You need to know what you spend. My budget is very elaborate and all spending fits into categories (which allows me to track my spending and turn it into awesome pie charts!). Yours can be as simple or as complicated as you would like. But you absolutely need to keep track of where your money is going. Every single dollar of it!
  • Debt Spreadsheet – (obviously you only need this if you have debt) Since our only debt is our mortgage, I have a simple amortization spreadsheet that keeps track of my interest paid each month, my extra payments, and how much I save over the life of the loan on my extra payments. For other debts, a spreadsheet that includes how much interest you’re paying and allows you to play with how much you save and how much you cut your loan length by paying extra is good. Again, this spreadsheet is going to be different based on your needs (and you can probably find a free Excel sheet that works for you by Googling it).
  • Your Money or Your Life Chart – I’ve talked extensively about this already, but this chart helps you visualize your progress. I also keep track of my monthly savings amount on this chart.
  • Personal Capital* – This is the only automated tool I use that’s not a spreadsheet and it tracks everything: my net worth, my debts, my credit card charges, my investments, my investment fees. It also puts everything together in one dashboard so I can see everything with one login! The service is free.

What can you Track?

If you follow our monthly plan update posts, you’ll notice that I have a million metrics that I follow and one of them is always worth celebrating. In the past year, we’ve celebrated:

  • Our investment balance surpassing our mortgage balance (March 2016)
  • Over 50% savings rate (April 2016) – For my calculations, I use the total we saved/invested that month (I add retirement savings + extra mortgage payments) and then divide that by the total (pre-tax) much we made that month. You can decide, based on your savings priorities, what to include in your own calculation.
  • Hitting $100,000 in investments (June 2016) – while on vacation!
  • Our mortgage balance going under $70,000 (July 2016)
  • Monthly interest on the mortgage dropped below $200 (September 2016) – This is a metric I like tracking – each month and each extra payment made knocks down the monthly fee I owe the bank!
  • Mortgage balance dropping below $60,000 (October 2016)
  • My 4% monthly investment income breaking $400 (November 2016 – didn’t mention it in the update) – This is a metric from the YMOYL chart – it helps you track how much money you could safely withdraw monthly if you quit today.

We’ve also celebrated hitting financial goals we’ve set for ourselves, but the little celebrations keep us motivated along the way. You’ll notice that we had something to celebrate nearly every month this year. The more you track, the more milestones you can celebrate along the way that keep you moving forward!

Time to start tracking!

What metrics do you track that I didn’t mention?


Personal Capital links on the blog are affiliate links. At NO COST to you, we get a “thank you” commission if you sign up through our links. If you don’t feel good about that, open a new window and go directly to their landing page. 

It's Time to Face Your Financial Reality

It’s Time to Face Your Financial Reality

Last week, in celebration of Halloween, I shared a tweetstorm of the scariest things you could say to a Personal Finance Geek. Maybe you read that and felt bad about yourself because you have done some of those things (or still do). DON’T. I shared the original tweets. What I did not share were all of the conversations that followed. SEVERAL of these tweets inspired responses from other personal finance bloggers that said things like “Me 2 years ago,” “…said my husband,” “been there!” or “still paying off that debt!”

We are not better than you. And you are not worse.

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Scariest thing to say to a personal finance geek

Scariest Things to Say to a Personal Finance Geek

In the spirit of this spooky Halloween holiday, I made a list of the scariest things you could say to a personal finance geek. Then I opened it up on Twitter:

The response was overwhelming. I immediately threw out my own list since all of them were covered. So, turn on the creepy Halloween music and prepare yourself for a Twitter storm of the scariest things you could say to a personal finance geek (ordered by category).

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If I had and how to spend my life insurance

If I had… & How to Spend My Life Insurance

Periodically, I like to run through what I would do with a windfall. Tomorrow is PFD Day and we’ll be receiving $5,110 overnight. In celebration, here’s what I would currently do:

If I Had $5,000

(Or $5,110) in this scenario. In case you forgot, we tithe 10% of all increase. So, our PFD amount left after that is $4,599. With this money, we will be putting $1,600 extra toward our mortgage (on top of the extra $1500 we’ve been putting toward it the past few months) bringing our mortgage balance under $60,000 (I’m already looking forward to the October Plan Update!). The other $3,000 will go toward my Roth IRA which I hope to max out with the other $2,500 by the end of the year.

If I Had $10,000

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Saving a Million Dollars is Easy!

Saving a Million Dollars is Easy!

How Easy is it to Save a Million Dollars?

Do you know what my favorite posts to read are? The ones about how saving a million dollars is totally easy! And guess what? There are THOUSANDS of articles about how easy it is to become a millionaire! I decided to aggregate a few of my favorites to drive the point home. Saving a million dollars over a long period of time is actually very simple!

How Much to Save Each Day to Become a Millionaire

Interest rates matter quite a bit when it comes to saving money. This Business Insider chart gives you a daily savings need based on 3 different return rates to save $1,000,000 by 65!

Saving $1000000

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Process is part of the product

The Process is PART of the Product

There is a constant battle between the process and the product in early retirement talk. Mr. T and I lean toward a calmer, more comfortable process leading to a delayed product of early retirement. Others choose to give up a lot more than we do in the process for a sooner product.

Balance is important. If you ruin your health, happiness, or relationships along the way, you’ll find yourself retired early and alone and sick. But you are the only one that can determine what that balance looks like for you.

It’s important to take another factor into consideration as well: Pride – The good kind. The kind where you roll up your sleeves, grab a cup of lemonade and just sit and stare thinking nothing but “I did that!” It’s a great feeling, right?

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Don't make dumb money mistakes

Don’t Make Dumb Money Mistakes!

When I was little, I remember being at my cousins’ house and we were having some sort of pinching fight(?) and laughing and crying and screaming. My aunt came in and yelled: “Don’t do dumb things!” and we all laughed and laughed. But the message stuck and I hear that in my mind so much that I’ve yelled it to my own children a number of times!

So what got me riled this time? The Ryan Lochte situation. I won’t go into it as I’m sick of hearing about it (though I do have to say my favorite headline has been the “Lochte Mess Monster” and his apology for his “immature tantics” made me laugh). The lesson for kids: Even if you’re hanging out with the dumb people, you’re still doing dumb things and may find yourself with your passport confiscated or with a fine for $11,000. Don’t do dumb things.

This statement applies to so many situations!

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July 2016 Plan update

July 2016 Plan Update

July has come and gone so fast. We spent the beginning of the month at the Oregon coast with my whole extended family. Then we came home to Alaska and went dipnetting the next week and filled our freezer full of a year’s worth of salmon. Alaska is seriously so amazing. We’ve also been enjoying bowls full of fresh raspberries from our garden.

This month on the blog, we covered how to save money* in both London and the UK in general. We also came clean about being early retirement frauds and I took Mr. T’s company’s retirement newsletter to task for being terrible. We had THREE people take the Roth IRA Challenge this month in awesome posts. First Ditching the Grind talked about being a U.S. military reservist. Then Amber Tree Leaves discussed property management. And finally, The Money Mine offered a great post about couple finances. Are YOU ready to take the challenge?

We’ve also completely changed our email newsletter. I now email once a week on Saturdays and while the email does include links to the posts on the blog from the week, it also includes information I don’t share on the blog and other interesting links of research and random tidbits of information I read that don’t “fit” in the blog format. If you want to give it a try. SIGN UP over on the sidebar! (I don’t plan to annoy you with sign-up pop-ups.)

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Don't be a retirement newsletter poster child

Don’t be a Retirement Newsletter Poster Child

Periodically, the company that runs the retirement funds at Mr. T’s employer sends out a retirement newsletter. This is the standard single-fold document that tells you to save more money, think about your future, and think about your taxes.

Here’s the Problem:

I read this newsletter religiously (mail about saving more money!? Yes!). It’s terrible. One of my earliest posts rewrote one of Mr. T’s newsletter scenarios because I think someone should jazz this stuff up!

This past newsletter threw in some more horrible stories. I’m changing the names (so I don’t offend the real fictional dummies), but everything else is the same. I’m not making this up!:

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Save Money on a Legal Will

Save Money on Your Legal Will

Mr. T and I finished the whole estate-planning process just before leaving on our grand adventure (follow us on Twitter for trip updates!). On Monday, we outlined considerations for making a will. Today we’re going to talk about how to save money on making one. This is expensive stuff we’re talking about! And today we’re going to cover how to save money on a legal will. I’m not an attorney, so obviously don’t take this as legal advice. This is just my observations based on my experiences and research on the matter. Mr. T and I used a lawyer to draft up our legal wills, powers of attorney, and advanced health directives (a total of 6 documents). The legal fees? $1,895! Yikes! That’s more than it cost for all of our plane tickets for the trip we’re on! Here are 5 ways to do it for less:

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