January 2017 Plan Update

January 2017 Plan Update

I started January all ready to kick this year out of the park! One month in and I’m waning. January was a weird month and I can’t say February is shaping up to be any less weird. We’re watching the daily policy deluge coming out of Washington and bracing for Mr. T’s job to be impacted. Since I’m in research, it’s hard not feeling completely worthless in a climate that ignores research. Neil deGrasse Tyson said it best:

Despite the weirdness, we’ll try to pick ourselves up a bit in February and see how much we can accomplish. I made very little progress on any of my non-financial goals this month. Let’s see how I did on the financial ones…

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! (I assumed bloggers pushed this because of the affiliate income until I started using it myself… worth the FREE pricetag! And Seriously Amazing.)

The next couple of months aren’t going to show a lot of progress because I’m changing things up drastically. I’m trying to build up a buffer in our account large enough that at the end of each month, all the bills are paid and we are left with all the money we’ve earned that month. Then we can officially live on the previous month’s earnings. I think it will help me with tracking better and also my variable income.

If we end up owing taxes (which seems highly probable right now… still waiting on some tax documents before I figure it all out…), it will take us a few more months to be a month ahead. I closed out a brokerage account (with almost exactly $2,000) that had been included in our investment calculations to help get us ahead in our bank account.

Despite trying to build up some cash reserves, our net worth continues to climb! Investments are currently at $135,525. The mortgage is now at $52,100. Again, we haven’t paid extra on it for two months now, but hopefully once we get through tax time and officially get a month ahead in liquid assets, we’ll start tackling this aggressively again.

Because this plan update is falling on the very first day of the month and I’m a bit behind… I don’t have a savings rate calculated for the month. I may include it in next month’s update as a comparison (no promises).

2017 Financial Goal Update:

  • Earn $25,000 – ($2,158/$25,000) – This is an inflated month because work actually forgot to cut my last check of 2016, so I got it this month… oh well… helps me get closer to the goal!
  • Mortgage Balance below $30,000 – (Currently at $52,100 – $22,100 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 

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:

  • $57 – The cost to park 2 cars in our San Francisco hotel right by Fisherman’s Wharf (I talked them down from $59 PER CAR!).
  • $11.45 – Toll charged through our rental car company for us to drive over the Golden Gate bridge.
  • $120 – The cost of brunch for all 10 of us at the Hollywood Cafe by Fisherman’s Wharf. The fruit was AMAZING!
  • $82.28 – Our usual suitcase full of Trader Joe’s goods we bring back to Alaska every time we have a chance.
  • $23.66 – Dinner at IKEA in California (if you go on a Tuesday, you get 2 free kids meals for every adult meal purchased!).

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

$1.10 from my Bookscouter Affiliate Link

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 have so much stuff, the obvious answer would be to move to a bigger house.”
  • “We paid off our mortgage on a grad student salary. It really is possible.”
  • “I feel like frugality is my job.”


Girls Are Brilliant (And Why That Matters)


Roth IRA Challenge: Freelancing


  1. It’s early in the year and your net worth is continuing to climb! Awesome! It’s early in the year and Mr. T has his 401(k) automated to max out this year. Awesome! It’s early in the year and you “might” owe some taxes. A very good problem to have 😉 I look forward to future updates and seeing how far you guys go. I’m sure 2017 will be a success!

    Mrs. Mad Money Monster

  2. Like you, I’m trying to get to a place where I’m living off last month’s income!

  3. No, no, no! I will not accept that you are waning! Reading your blog, it’s like a positive force for good action. You need to feel some of that yourself!

    I know it can be hard not to be discouraged. The goings on are (or maybe ‘were’, since they’re happening) unimaginable. But if there is going to be a storm for you to weather, you have built up some great defences to help your family get through it. And you’re in inspiration to your readers too 🙂

    P.S. It totally makes sense that you’re in research, I must have missed that before

    • MaggieBanks

      THANK YOU SARAH. Your comment *almost* made me cry (who are we kidding… it totally did!). We’re doing alright. January has been so weird on so many levels… but my family is awesome and this community is awesome and I’m so glad for all of it! Thank you!

  4. Waning – yep, yep I hear you on that front, lol. I’ve got to say though, like Sarah mentioned, to be “waning” you sure don’t seem to show it on the blog or twitter front. 🙂

    Nice goal for living on last months income, I haven’t ever thought about it like that.

    As far as the comments, OBVIOUSLY the solution is a bigger house, bwahahaha. It reminds me of a love it or list it I saw recently where they did the intro and Mrs. SSC and I both said, they don’t have a space problem, they have a clutter/organization problem. A bigger house won’t fix that, lol.

    Keep rocking that “waning” spirit!

    • MaggieBanks

      My response was: “That’s precisely why we plan to stay in our small house for a long time… otherwise, we’ll easily just fill it with more stuff!”

  5. “Then we can officially live on the previous month’s earnings.”

    That’s exactly what I did several years ago – it took AGES to get done but when it was in place, it was amazing. I felt like we were just coasting for a few years with the previous paychecks covering future spending 4-6 weeks out. We’ve eaten into that buffer pretty badly the last three years so I’m starting over again but I know it can be done.

    How big is that Trader Joe’s suitcase? I’m amazed that it costs less than $90 to fill!

    • MaggieBanks

      I am VERY excited to live a month ahead! Also… the trader joe’s suitcase is ALWAYS sticker shock (in a good way!) – how are things so cheap there? (I cannot LIVE without their truffle brownie mix.) Also, Israeli couscous is delicious!

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