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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!”
Calculating Good and Bad Financial Scenarios

Calculating Good and Bad Financial Scenarios

I haven’t done many calculations around here lately and since we both know I am number-crunching incessently, I thought it was about time to do a number crunching exercise here on the blog with our numbers. Today, we’re going to look at 3 scenarios into the future: a terrible one, a low-return one, and a good return one. Let’s see how the numbers play out:

Where we Stand

These calculations are based on our portfolio’s current $150,000 value (a nice even number to work with, which is part of why we’re running the simulations now!). The monthly savings for the first year assume $2500 – the $1500 to max out Mr. T’s 401k (automatic) and a mix of employer contributions and my savings for another $1000/month. This is our current savings rate. Then, after the first year, those monthly savings amount skyrocket to $4500 because in 2019, we will start the year with a paid off house and we can throw our mortgage payment directly into savings! To make these calculations, I use my very favorite compound interest calculator to plug in the numbers.

The Recession Starts Tomorrow!

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Why I Want to Move to the U.K.

Why I Want to Move to the U.K.

I often wax poetic about wanting to move to the U.K. and long-time readers of the blog know that I sincerely mean it when I say I want to move there. But, recently, I had a breakthrough in thinking. Last week, Mr.T and I were on a road trip from Dallas to San Antonio with two sleeping 3-year-olds in the back seat. So, we were stuck in a car with time to chat.

Our usual conversation is about where we would move if we left Alaska. Our parents are in the Northwest and we grew up in the suburbs of Seattle and Portland, but we’ve found that when we go back, we’re stressed out by the amount of people and traffic and the bustle that has moved into the suburbs. Living in Anchorage has made us small-time people. We’re now definitely more country or suburbs-of-suburbs type of people. We also would love to live next to siblings, but our siblings are all over (Texas, Nebraska, California) and we’re not in love with any of those locations and we can’t count on them to stay there either.

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An Honest Look At Your Awesomeness

An Honest Look At Your Awesomeness

An Exercise in Self-Reflection

  1. Grab a Piece of Paper and a Pencil
  2. Write down 5 things you are AWESOME at.
  3. Write down 5 weaknesses you have.
  4. Write down 1 thing you want to actively get better at.

Are you Too Hard on Yourself?

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Save Money on Razors (by using only 1 a year!)

Save Money on Razors (by using only 1 a year!)

On Sunday, my razor head broke. That’s right. It broke. The plastic connecting it to the razor broke. And I had been using the same razor for just over one year!

Men’s Razors are Better Than Women’s

Yes. There’s a wage gap and, I believe, a razor gap. They just don’t make them the same for women. I’ve been a men’s razor snob since Gillette accidentally sent me a Mach 3 razor when I turned 18 (I was a male on their marketing list apparently). So, let me tell you, ladies… it’s time to pick yourself up a Men’s razor. That’s step one.

Razor Heads Can be Sharpened

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Seward's Folly: Happy Alaska Day

Seward’s Folly (Happy Alaska Day)

Let me tell you a little story about taking chances that people think are stupid.

There once was a guy who bet $7.2 MILLION DOLLARS on real estate. I mean, Crazy right? And this was WAY back in 1867, so those dollars were worth WAY more back then!

His name was William Henry Seward and his purchase? ALASKA! He bought the state for the equivalent of 2.5 cents per acre!

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Northern Expenditure’s 100th Post!

We’ve made it. 100 episodes. That’s over four seasons if we were a standard American sitcom! And that means… it’s time for a clip show! That’s right. Here’s where we would put together a moving and hilarious series of vignettes of us laughing together and crying together. Unfortunately, in blog form, this is the best I can do to capture our collective experience:

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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:


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The Index Card Challenge: My Submission

Recently, Adam Chudy issued a challenge for several bloggers to condense all of their financial advice onto a single index card. It was a fascinating idea and I loved reading through them. Go check out the index card challenge entries if you haven’t already.

First of all, here is my entry. It’s a lot less technical than others’ advice (and includes a lot more color. Yay markers!), but I’m a firm believer that if you get the right mentality in place, you’ll be able to figure out the details because you’ll care enough to do so.

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Don't make dumb money mistakes

Keepin’ it Real: Kiddos

Mrs. Frugalwoods recently admitted that she’s nervous about becoming a mom, but she’s learning to accept we’re all flawed. This kind of thing strikes a chord with me and I had to talk about it. First off, let me just say:

No one should EVER say “It’s so great. Enjoy every minute” to someone with children. 

Don’t stop reading if you don’t have kids. This post is for you too. I want to talk about the logistics of having children. As a stay-at-home mom, I am a “professional” in the field. So please listen up.

Why Kids Are the Worst:

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