November 2016 Plan Update

November 2016 Plan Update

What a roller coaster of a month! I’m happy to report that things are going great inside the Stock house. The kids are at great stages right now and our house feels very merry and bright! Outside our little house and in the big, big world, I can’t say I feel quite as safe and happy. The hate is coming out of the closets and seemingly taking over the world. It’s important to be kind and as Mr. Rogers said:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’

(Mister Rogers has always been my favorite!)

This Christmas season, we’re making an increased effort to be those helpers!

This month is BIG for the blog. Coming soon: we have a very exciting Christmas post that’s definitely out of the ordinary. (Mr. T and I spent hours putting it together and you’ll LOVE IT. I promise!) In two weeks, I’m introducing something BIG and I’m super excited about it… details coming Monday, December 19th! YAY YAY YAY YAY! Ahem. Okay… what you came here for…

The Numbers:

You guys… if you haven’t signed up for Personal Capital, I think you’re nuts! It’s free! I look forward each month to logging in and seeing all of my accounts in one place. It shows all of my credit card accounts, my mortgage, my investment accounts, analyzes my fees, and is very visually compelling. I mean, it’s a geeked-out way to see it all in one glance without spending too much time. Sign up here to help yours truly speed toward financial independence! It has cut down my end-of-the month reckoning significantly since I can see all my accounts together (with graphs!).

Markets are up in the stratosphere. I’m not going to complain, since we’re now sitting at $126,530 in investments… that’s right… we hit our crazy market-based goal for the year! And we’ve officially more than doubled our investments since starting this blog nearly 1.5 years ago! Woo hoo! Our mortgage balance is looking pretty great as well. We’re down to $53,700 (details on how below!). Just $8,700 to go before we’ve officially halved our starting balance of $90,000 when we started the blog! (If you haven’t noticed, there are always markers to celebrate along the way!)

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 November: 61%. You read that right… 61%! That’s insane! (Again, thanks to including the extra payments we make toward the mortgage!)

2016 Financial Goal Update:

With just $11,000, we could realize all of our goals for the year!

We have hit EVERY SINGLE GOAL except the 2 Roth IRAs! But here’s why I’m not considering this a total loss: since the beginning of the year, we’ve invested $15,250 into Mr. T’s 401k and that wasn’t on our goal list at all! So… we may have redirected the Roth IRA funds toward that. I still want to make sure I am funding retirement accounts in my name, so if we end up actually contributing to a Roth IRA at all before April, mine will come first. Here’s the rest of the update:

  • $125,000 in investments by the end of the year ($126,530/$125,000) – DONE! – I can’t even believe this happened. Again, market-based goals aren’t great because we have no control over them. That being said, I’m probably going to set a crazy market-based goal for next year!
  • Max out my Roth IRA for 2015 by April ($5500/$5500) – DONE!
  • Max out my Roth IRA for 2016 by December ($0/$5500) – nope
  • Max out Mr. T’s Roth IRA for 2016 by December ($0/$5500) – nope
  • Mortgage balance below $55,000 by the end of December ($53,700 – DONE!)

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:

  • $1223 – A digital piano we purchased for our family Christmas present. The kids know we’re all buying each other a piano so they can start piano lessons. (The piano was on sale at Costco for 999.99, but it costs $223 to ship it up to Alaska.)
  • $43.99 – My anemia is back, so I had to get more unicorn blood (half the price of the local store on Amazon!)
  • $29.95 – Elf on the Shelf – Ugh. This is what my girls asked for from Santa. They keep saying things like: “Kylie’s elf always hides while they’re sleeping. Paige’s elf always does silly things while they’re sleeping. I wonder what our elf will do!” Sit on the shelf like he’s SUPPOSED TO DO BASED ON HIS NAME! Elf on the Shelf is the prime example of Pinterest-mom-shaming! Now my kids have expectations! Do you have an Elf on the Shelf? What does yours do?
  • $63 – The cost of Thanksgiving. Turkeys are $1.68/lb unless you spend $50 at Fred Meyer’s and then you get it for $0.59/lb. So, I had to buy some shampoo, candy for stockings, and a few other things we use along with our dinner food to get the price of the turkey down to nearly 1/3 of the original price! (worth it.)
  • $63.60 – The cost of the eye doctor appointment for Florin. She’s worn glasses for a pre-lazy eye since she was 18 months old. This appointment, the doctor said she may have grown out of them! She gets to do a six month trial without glasses! Yay! Cheers all around!


$0.90 from my Bookscouter Affiliate Link

$100 – Personal Capital Affiliate Link – I have to say that when readers sign up through my links, I feel an immense outpouring of love. More than the money, it feels like you’re giving me a big, virtual high five and I am honored and grateful. Thank you.

$5,000 – An inheritance from Mr. T’s grandmother given with the stipulation that it would go straight to our mortgage. Thanks Grandma!

$15 – Some Facebook settlement. Yay!

Financial Phrases:

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

  • “When we bought our first house, we didn’t have enough credit history, so we had to get a second loan and then we had to refinance and it was a nightmare. And then we finally did all that and then we had to move!”
  • “It’s way too easy to get credit cards.”
  • Not directly finance related, but my Penny (8 years old) told me last week: “You need to love yourself first. If you don’t, it’s hard to love other people.”


Roth IRA Challenge: Making the Most of Missed Opportunities


The Future is Full of HOPE


  1. Congrats on an amazing month and year, friend! Can’t wait to read the good news. So inspired to see all that you’ve achieved!

  2. Lia

    Congrats! You guys had an amazing month! I’ve been following your journey for a little while and it’s awesome how many goals you attained in such a short time frame. Is there any chance you could write a bit about your investing strategy and why did you choose Roth vs. Traditional IRA’s? Thank you!

    • MaggieBanks

      Well, the easy answer is because we can! The complicated answer is that we haven’t actually contributed anything to either one this year, so I guess we’re not solidly in one camp vs the other. 🙂

  3. TJ

    You are doing great! What a rock star savings rate. Also well done on the PersonalCapital sign up. I’m still waiting for my first. 😀

  4. Exciting update! Your continued, steady progress is so inspiring. I like your point about celebrating markers along the way. We should probably do more of that, instead of just striving to do “as much as possible.”

    We DO NOT have an elf on the shelf. There is no possible way we would remember to move it all of the time and set up elaborate scenes. Good luck my friend. This morning on Facebook, I saw someone had hers sitting with some dog treats and a note that says, “worst Christmas cookies ever, do not leave out for Santa.” I can’t remember if you have a dog, but that scene seems pretty easy to do.

    • MaggieBanks

      I think i’m going to have him write a note about how he’s a different elf and likes to play a game where everyone is involved. If you find me, hide me again! (Then the pressure is off me to remember and I don’t have to pretend I’m not hiding him!) Hope that works. 🙂

  5. Our family’s Elf on the Shelf tradition is scrolling facebook and seeing the funny things that other families elves are up to. The kids love it. I love it. Win-Win =)

    • MaggieBanks

      Ugh. That’s been ours as well. Now they have high hopes. I think ours is going to play a game where we all hide it. “I didn’t make the rules! The elf did!”

  6. I forgot to mention that I took an exacto knife, made some barely noticeable incisions and gave our elf bendy arms and legs, just using paper clips (unfolded of course). This way you can wrap his arms or feet around things and he “holds on”. It makes him sitting in the chandelier or hanging from the blinds or wherever he ends up, so much easier. 🙂

    Congrats on hitting your2016 goals, woohoo!! And congrats on expecting another kid, children are so wonderful! Bwahahahaha I’m kidding of course, unless I really just guessed your big announcement. My real guess is that you guys might be moving away from Alaska soon. Again, just a guess. 🙂 Can’t wait to find out what it is!

    Fingers crossed Florin doesn’t have to go back to glasses!

    • MaggieBanks

      GASP! NOT PREGNANT! 🙂 Thanks for the tip on the bendy arms… totally doing that! Also… we’re not moving away from Alaska (anytime soon that we know of)… I’m announcing a project I’m going to be working on that I’m geeking out over (everyone’s going to be all… “You were excited about THIS?”) 🙂

      • Hahahaha, I couldn’t resist. 🙂 Yeah I feel like if I talked about a project idea I had for some future side income, because it’s still related to geology, I’d probably get the same reaction. 🙂 Don’t worry, I’ll make sure my typing “looks excited”.

  7. Congratulations on your November. A 61% savings rate is remarkably good. I love that you bought a piano for the family. Do you (the parents) play already? Or are you going to learn together?

    • MaggieBanks

      Mr. T does. I can read music and took piano lessons for YEARs but I was the terrible piano student that had no patience… I plan to re-learn for sure!

  8. One month left in 2016 and you’re ahead of schedule! Woooot! Grandma sounds awesome for demanding that you contribute to your goals!

    • MaggieBanks

      Well…. if you ignore our total lack of Roth IRAS…. but still feeling pretty good about the whole thing!

  9. Looks great! You guys are killing it! Shout out to Grandma for the gift!

  10. ChooseBetterLife

    Congrats! You guys are on a roll. Can’t wait to hear your big news too 🙂
    And for the Elf on a Shelf, check out these ideas

  11. Congrats on reaching so many of your goals well before the end of the year! And 61%?!?! That’s awesome! I haven’t ever actually calculated our savings rate, but I know it is super low.

    Good luck with the elf on a shelf thing. I can barely remember to open the little doors on my advent calendar, which is just giving myself a piece of chocolate… I definitely wouldn’t be able to keep up with a nightly elf on a shelf display.

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks Jena! Our savings rate includes our extra mortgage payments (because then it feels better!) and dropping $5000 straight to the mortgage skews that rate… but I like it. 🙂

  12. This is the best “I told you so” ever. 😉 Because what did I tell you? That you’d hit your goals. And here you are. Hooray!!! I think it’s a full slate of wins given that you repurposed the Roth funds into Mr T’s 401k. And you still have a month to go!

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks lady. As always. Sorry you’re always cheering me on and I repay you by pressuring you to quit. 🙂

  13. Kim from Philadelphia

    Trump recently said he’d have a “big announcement” in two weeks, so I got a good chuckle out of YOUR big announcement in 2 weeks!!

    Maggie, what an awesome post, filled with many awesome accomplishments!
    Congrats on your financial goals.

    I love that Mr T’s grandma stipulated the money go toward your mortgage. We received money from
    My uncle, and I knew that’s exactly what he’d want me to do with it- so that’s what I did!

    I hope your anemia situation gets better soon.

    Our friends gave my son an elf when he was 3. I swear, we would forget to move the elf every night. We didn’t totally love the idea, and as tired parents of s toddler it wasn’t always at the top of our list. We’d tell our son he was “resting” ( when we failed to move him)
    Once when I was devoid of elf hangout places, I put him on the bathroom windowsill. After discovering him, our son covered his face with toilet paper.
    “Mom, it’s creepy that the elf stares at me when I’m sitting on the potty”
    I never thought of that! Lol

    • MaggieBanks

      Ha ha ha. Your post made me laugh multiple times. thanks, Kim. My announcement is not at all connected to Trump and I really feel like everyone is going to be like: “um, no big deal” but I’m very excited! As for teh elf on the shelf… I’m still formulating a plan to get me off the hook. 🙂

  14. Emily Jividen

    I refuse to do the elf on the shelf, and Little Bit’s never asked about it. We just tell her that the deer in the backyard spy on her for Santa to encourage healthy childhood paranoia.

    Congrats on checking off so much of your financial to do list and the progress on the mortgage.

  15. Jacq

    I am old / not a millenia yet not quite gen x either? We behaved without a dratted elf. If I ever have kids my shelf shall be elf less. Unless its Legolas and crewarding from Lord of the Rings. 🙂
    *high five* on your goals! I am going to check back tomorrow for your exciting news. 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks so much! And yes… the cursed elf on the shelf. We got them one, but I Have a plan!

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