March 2016 Plan Update

We did it! We just came into $1.4 million dollars and we’re done! See ya world! April Fools! (Sorry. Couldn’t help myself. Ahem… moving on…)

March! A thrilling month in the Banks house. I took a business trip to my office in the Midwest and met some interesting people on the plane. Also, we got new carpet in our whole house which we’ve been working up to for awhile. We wanted to get all of the energy updates done as well as everything decluttered before adding new, fluffy clean carpet to the home. The carpet we had was over ten years old, stained all over, very hard, and had all sorts of pet hair and dander from previous owners (which were not good for Mr. T’s dust allergies). Now, we feel like we’re walking on clouds! And I know all of the hidden pet hair has been vacuumed up!* I’m sitting on the floor as I type this because it’s just so wonderful…

Here on the blog, we celebrated a week of numbers! We looked at how much we spend, the percentages to know for retirement calculations, and then formulated a few new potential plans! If you haven’t weighed in on those, please do! We love to hear the feedback! We had some awesome guest bloggers continue the Roth IRA Challenge Series: Creating my Kaleidoscope and She Picks Up Pennies both took the challenge. I love seeing the many different ways people get an extra $5500! We would love to see more people take the challenge! A few more people shared their Fill-the-Bucket Lists on their blogs this month: FI Big SkyTawcan and Dream Beyond Debt – All of them are epic. I’ve also added all the current Fill-the-Bucket List Participants to the original Fill-the-Bucket List post. Go read all of them if you missed any!

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!

Big news this month! We did it! We successfully saw our investments surpass our mortgage balance! YAY! (Thank you markets and extra money coming in this month!) Our investments sit at $88,102! And the mortgage is down to $74,200. Next awesome target? Surpassing $100,000 in investments!

We got our $900 tax refund, but that went to the new carpet (worth it). We also got our energy rebate check just this week which I used immediately to max out our remaining Roth IRA for 2015. Now we can start chipping away at the $11,000 for our 2016 Roth IRAs.

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 March: 46.2%! If you include both the Roth IRA Maxout (not included in that percentage) and the energy rebate check as income, the percentage actually climbs to: 56.5%! Yup. We’re killing it! (Extra money this month helped significantly, obviously.)

2016 Financial Goal Update:

  • $125,000 in investments (need some market help on this one, so I’m not going to focus on it, but if they continue, it might be possible! Currently $88,102/$125,000)
  • Max out my Roth IRA for 2015 by April ($5500/$5500) – Done!
  • Max out Mr. T’s Roth IRA for 2016 by December ($0/$5500)
  • Max out my Roth IRA for 2016 by December ($0/$5500)
  • Mortgage balance below $55,000 by the end of December ($74,200 – $19,200 left to go!)

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:

$1387.40 – New carpet! It cost about $2700, but we purchased some discounted Lowes gift cards in December in preparation. So, only $1387.40 was on this month’s expenses.

$143 – Tickets to A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Globe in London.

$79.96 – Tickets to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime in London.

$137.92 – Tickets to Matilda the Musical in London – Can you tell we love theatre?

$110 – Passport renewal fee for me.

$4.99 – 4 passport pictures at Costco. I look like a felon. WHY do I want 4 of them!?

$6.45 x 2 – 2 Priority legal flat rate envelopes to apply for my passport. The first one came back because I forgot to sign the form. Facepalm.

$56.34 – The usual Trader Joe’s imports as well as some microwave dinners to eat in my hotel room on my business trip.

Extra Income:

$2.55 from my Bookscouter Affiliate Link – A reader tipped me off after my Decluttering Books Post that they had an affiliate link, so I added it in after the fact. Who knew?!

Financial Phrases:

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

  • “People ask me why I do this because, as most of you know, I’m wealthy. But I do this because I think we can bring hope to someone. We can make a difference. And I’m pretty sure we can make money along the way.” – my CEO.
  • “When we got married, we used to talk a lot about budgets. But then we just settled on: ‘You go out and make as much money as you can and I’ll stay home with the kids and spend as little as possible.’ But it was my idea to pay ourselves first for savings!”
  • “It’s time to retire, move to Hilo, Hawaii, and buy myself a Mustang GT!” – One of my seatmates on the airplane.
  • “My 19-year old son said he wanted to move back home. I said ‘You’re absolutely welcome here to get back on your feet. You get three months. After that, you’re no longer on my payroll.'” – The “single mom success story” on my airplane ride.
  • “Boring work days are the leading cause of sword purchases.”

*The header image shows our old carpet with Mr. T pulling out some tile we had in the corner of our living room. The previous owners were going to add a stove, but never did. So we ripped it and carpeted the whole floor. 


Choose Your Own Airplane Adventure


When Money and Love Don’t Mix


  1. I concur. Boredom leads to crazy purchases–this comment reminds me of the fulfillment curve highlighted in Your Money or Your Life! ?

    • MaggieBanks

      It totally does! Fabulous quote! I love hearing real winners like that.

  2. Great update! You’re doing so well in moving towards your goals – I’m so proud of you 🙂

    The Roth IRA Challenge was fun, but thanks for the reminder that I still need to do a Fill-The-Bucket List.

  3. Kim from Philadelphia

    Congrats, Maggie! I love your updates!
    We also love theater, so totally agree it’s a good investment. Matilda is awesome, plus going to The Globe is a wonderful opportunity.

    Fresh carpet is so…fabulous. I recently rented a steam cleaner to clean our large area rugs. Wow, do they work well. It made me ridiculously happy. Of course I rented it from the grocery store with a coupon!

    I love that you had microwaveable meals during your business trip. So smart!

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks Kim! When I lived in London, I made it a goal to see at least one show a week for the whole semester (4.5 months). It was fabulous! And so is the new carpet! Now I have no hesitations when my 2 year old is rolling around.

  4. Tawcan

    Ha, would be nice to get $1.4 million handed to me. 🙂

    56.5% savings rate is fantastic. Keep it up!

  5. Nice milestone to reach: more investments than mortgage!

    Saving 56,5pct is massive! Keep saving like this to retire early!

    Enjoy London. I love the city lot. IT amazes me how orderly the people queue in the metro.

    • MaggieBanks

      Oh I love London! We only hit that savings rate because we had a large influx of money. 🙂 PFD month will probably be a high percentage too, but I doubt we’ll hit 50% before October again!

  6. Wohoo on your investments surpassing your mortgage! Now, if you can live on $560 a year, then you’ve officially achieved financial independence. When you add in the PFD, should be a piece of cake, right?! 😉 That new carpet sounds incredible — we’re still working with the old stained kind… I would love to put in wood floors, since they’re more pet-friendly. Maybe one day. And I’m getting more and more envious of your London trip with every new detail that I learn! It’s going to be so wonderful!

    • MaggieBanks

      $560/year? No problem! That’s about 1% of our current spending. I bet we could cut the rest down by 99%. 🙂 And you should be jealous. This trip is going to be epic! Mr. T’s first time to Europe, our first overseas trip in 7 years, and the longest (x10) that we’ve ever been away from the kids! 2 months and counting!

  7. Ooh, theater tickets, exciting stuff!! 🙂 Sounds like you’ve had a fantastic month in general — congrats! When are you leaving on your trip?

    For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to put my blonde hair up in a ponytail for my passport photo a couple years ago. This looks fine in real life, but I forgot that in photos my hair looks approximately the same color as my skin, which means that in the passport photo I look bald. Truly. Guess I’ll just look forward to 2024 when I need to renew my passport and take a new photo. :/

    • MaggieBanks

      Our trip starts June 9th! – though it actually starts June 2 since we’re spending a few days with the in-laws on the way there (and dropping off the kids) and spending a few days at my parents’ on the way home (to also pick the kids up). I’m super, super excited… obviously. A girl I knew in high school took our driver’s license picture with a tube top and looked totally nude in the photo. She got let off without a ticket more than once because of it.

  8. I bought the cheapie subscription to our town’s Broadway series for $170 last month. Matilda the Musical is one of the shows. I heard it is good! We are having a garage sale on the 30th, and I hope to split the proceeds between my 2016 Roth fund and our 2017 “I Just Finished Grad School and Now I Am Going To Disney World” trip.

    • MaggieBanks

      I’m excited to see it! Good luck at the garage sale. And the WDW trip will be amazing and well-earned!

  9. Wow, what a month! Congrats on your investment gains and the new carpet!

  10. J

    Is it weird that I felt happy and excited after reading your notable expenses? I’m not into theatre but I won’t mind seeing The Curious Incident and Matilda! Congratulations on achieving a financial milestone and for your massive savings percentage this month! Great job guys. 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks, J! And it’s totally NOT weird – purchasing experiences gets everyone excited! Think if I put the same amount of money down for something like “new clothes” – it really drives home the different levels of happiness that same money can buy. Experiences always win!

  11. Aren’t happy markets the best? They make everything temporarily wonderful. Congrats on the carpet! Squish your toes in it some more!

    I’m sorry you look like a felon in your passport picture. Hubs does too. His is so bad. He hasn’t had any negative implications from it, though. If anything, I get extra screening! I get searched so often!!

    • MaggieBanks

      Oh, I’m still loving on my carpet. Every time I get out of bed, I think “man, I live on a cloud!” So worth it! Passport pictures are weird in general. Penny got her first passport at six months old that was good for 5 years – she looked very different at 5.5 years old than she did as a bald, smiling baby (they couldn’t make her stop smiling, so she got away with it!).

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