January 2016 Plan Update

We actually got some snow in January, which makes for a good winter, but then it all melted and we’re back to a slushy, wet, and icy January. Curse you global warming! We’ve settled back into life after Hawaii and started our major purging efforts in our home. We’ve completed everyone’s clothes, all the books in the house, and everything in my bedroom and under the bed! We delivered our first big trunk-full to Salvation Army and it felt great! For the next few Wednesdays, I’ll be documenting this journey starting this Wednesday with the process I took to get rid of half of my clothes!

This month, I outlined our non-financial goals, had a weird dream that changed my whole day’s outlook, and we had a day off thanks to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We also went on both a food and spending cleanse that helped us re-evaluate our habits and survived a major earthquake.

I also posted this month about my alternative to the Bucket List called the Fill-the-Bucket List and issued a challenge for participation. It’s been really fun reading about the opportunities everyone has taken as they’ve filled their personal buckets. So far, submissions include the wonderful bloggers over at: Half BankedDitching The GrindThe Yachtless, Mr. FireStationGeneration Y Retirement AccountFrugal to Free, and Mortimer’s Money Machines. Go check those out! If you haven’t participated, it’s not too late! We want to see your Fill-the-Bucket list!

The Numbers:

We started using Personal Capital to get a snapshot of our monthly finances. It really is a geeked-out dream for someone like me that loves to see graphs and make spreadsheets. If you don’t like doing that, it’s also really user-friendly and does all the work for you. Best part? It’s free! Sign up here to help yours truly speed toward financial independence!

January wasn’t a great month for finances for us even with our spending cleanse. Our net worth actually went DOWN for the first time since September. That has to do with the markets tanking, of course, which is fine by me because we’ve got an Energy Rebate to put into those markets in February. I hope the sale lasts until then! Right now, our investments are down to $65,860. Doesn’t look good for hitting our goal of getting this number over $125,000 in 2016! Or maybe it will motivate us to really hustle to get there! We’ll have to see!

We also weren’t able to put the extra $1500 toward the mortgage this month as we had hoped. We did manage to pay an extra $600, so it wasn’t a total fail, and our mortgage is currently at $78,670. Since I get paid hourly, I didn’t get a paycheck at the beginning of January because I was in Hawaii for the last pay period of December. No regrets! I do, however, hope this isn’t an indicator for the year ahead. I hope to have our net worth back on the up side next month even if the market continues to tank! And I hope to start with the $1500 payments next month on the mortgage. The market is also messing with my plan to get my investments to surpass my mortgage balance quickly! It will be interesting to see how long it takes for that to happen (maybe February?!).

As for our self-employment goal of doing one small thing a month, we’re spending today taking marketing photos of the holiday bazaar products to put up on Etsy and also to pitch locally. Small step: completed (a day late, but I’m counting it)!

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:

Since we were on a spending cleanse this month, we don’t have a lot of expenses on our list that weren’t food or gas, but here are all of them:

$5.23 – Cards and stamps for birthday cards for my mom and brother-in-law.

$21.67 – Birthday presents for two of my nieces and two of my nephews.

$6 – Parking at the hockey game.

$144 – Swimming lessons for my girls this March (these classes fill up in under four hours!).

$116.17 – Medical charges from the hospital – Still paying for that darn quarter my daughter swallowed back in October!

Financial Phrases:

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

“We’ve all but decided the house isn’t for us. We want to retire early like you!!”

“We looked at our investments this week. I don’t think we’ll ever retire. I’m not even sure you can even plan to live on investments anymore. I don’t think anyone can retire on that.”

“Why would you even look at the market this week?!”

“We had our money in several different investments. If we had just counted on my husband’s retirement fund from work, we never would have retired. We were able to do it because he started investing right out of college in several different places.”

I highly endorse hacking life… but, early retirement is probably a little hyperbolic. I think of ‘it’ (which is an ideal that I am not claiming to have achieved) as ‘not being afraid anymore,’ because I think it’s mostly fear that drives our decisions to not pursue what we want.”

“With life spans increasing, we need more mid-career sabbaticals.”

“Instead of ‘retiring,’ we should call it ‘repositioning’.”

January 2016 plan update


The Bell on the Fishing Pole: Living in the Present


Organizing My Clothes Closet


  1. Great job with the continued progress! I will definitely be working on my own “Fill The Bucket List.” Have you thought about trying to upcycle or refashion your clothes instead of donating them? I’ve been trying to use every available resource to pay off our debt and support our frugal lifestyle (third year of not buying any clothing). If I can’t sell it, I’m going to use it for something.

    • MaggieBanks

      I love upcycling clothing! It’s super fun. But I really had plenty of clothes as it was. At this point, I want more things OUT of my house to get to a point of order. It’s feeling great so far! (I once turned an ugly sweater into Christmas hats for a whole family of cousins!)

  2. Gosh darn markets. I am totally with the person who said there’s no point in even looking at the markets this month. (Ok, so I actually looked at them today because I needed to update my net worth spreadsheet, etc., but I avoided them for all of January.) Here’s hoping they rebound this year!

    • MaggieBanks

      Meh. They can tank all year – this is the first year we’re putting in as much as we are… I’d like a nice, long sale on the stocks! 🙂

  3. I love “repositioning”, that’s what led us to FFLC – Fully Funded Lifestyle Change. Though, like you pointed out, it could just be Mostly funded, but a lifestyle change, regardless!

    I keep forgetting about the fill-the-bucket list. That should be a pretty quick post as they’re fun things to write about, so not a lot of thinking, editing, blah, blah, blah…. Challenge accepted!

    • MaggieBanks

      Yes, I find a lot of people are in opposition to early retirement, but no one seems to be in opposition of “having the freedom to work the way we want to work.” – Retirement=laziness apparently.

  4. Tawcan

    I haven’t’ been looking at the market for a while now. Really don’t care whether it goes up or down in the short term. 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      Me neither. Though I do actually like it when it drops before I plan to put a whole bunch in. 🙂

  5. I decided to start tracking our net worth this year… so this is the first month that I’ve actually paid attention… and what a bad month to start… We are down already… but I’m not going to be using any of that money in the near future, so it really isn’t a concern… but not exactly the most motivating first month of tracking…

    I love the Fill-the-Bucket lists. It’s a great idea, and I think I may do one myself as well…

  6. Your mortgage is getting so low. Great job paying it down!

    I haven’t been checking any of our account balances. Don’t really want to see how much they’re down. We just keep funneling more in each month. On the plus side, several of our companies have either initiated or raised dividends over the last two months so we’ll keep buying more shares at a discount.

  7. I could go for a mid-career sabbatical right now! 🙂 I so look forward to your quotes each month.

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks. I find it fascinating to hear so many things every month when I really pay attention!

  8. Way to keep up your financial goals even with the markets going haywire! Your paying down your mortgage so fast, and that’s incredible. By the way – I love the last two financial phrases! Mid-career sabbaticals & repositioning – I’ll take it!

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks! I’m not super happy with January’s progress, but look forward to February! The markets don’t bother me one bit. 🙂

  9. “Instead of ‘retiring,’ we should call it ‘repositioning’.”

    I love this. That is all.

    • MaggieBanks

      Pretty great, huh? Sometimes I overhear some really dumb things, and sometimes they’re fabulous!

  10. Don’t you hate it when you can’t pay the extra amount you were planing on paying?! Still, $600 extra is fantastic! Things like that seem to happen to me often. I was planning on throwing an extra $1500 to my student loan this month. That $1500 turned into $1300. Still good but I’m disappointed it wasn’t the full $1500. Sounds like, despite the markets, you had a successful month. Good job starting off 2016 on the right foot!

    • MaggieBanks

      Yes, it’s very frustrating! But makes me really want to hustle harder in February to make it happen!

  11. I’m so impressed with the decluttering you guys are doing! And yeah… looks like the markets aren’t going to be much help for a while anyway. 🙁 BTW — I’m still trying to write a fill the bucket post. Planned to do it for last Friday, but just couldn’t scrape together enough time. (Kinda drowning in work at the moment… isn’t January usually slow?!)

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