October 2015 Plan Update

Another month has come and gone and this one shot by fast. At the beginning of the month, we received our annual PFD checks, so this month’s numbers reflect that chunk of money! Mr. T and I reflected upon how we love it when people say “That looks like a lot of work” and we also participated in an awesome financial date night where we really pinned down our current goals. Also, this month, our family got to take a family trip out to the Midwest to see siblings, cousins, and for me to work in the office for a few days. We had an absolute blast swimming, partying, going to pumpkin patches, and eating. I even managed to grab myself a 33% raise while I was in the office! Hopefully that will go through next month. The weather here has turned colder and we got a couple inches of snow this weekend. Another lovely month for the Banks.

The Numbers:

We just 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!

Thanks to the PFD we were able to throw over $2000 extra dollars towards the mortgage this month, so that’s down to $82,600 left to pay. I would love to see this drop below $80,000 with the December plan update. That’s the goal. As for our investments, the market did exactly what I wanted it to… it let me throw in some PFD money and then it headed back up! I love it when things do what I tell them to! So those currently sit at $72,552. Just over $10,000 away from being at $500,000 to go on our $500,000 savings goal… I would also love to see this happen by the December plan update so we can spend 2016 counting down from $500,000 to go. I would also like to point out that we are still in a transition to saving for early retirement. We didn’t start this blog maxing out retirement accounts and saving half our income. We’re working up to that each month. We don’t make a lot compared to many other early retirement bloggers. Let’s just say we’re still solidly in the 15% tax bracket. But we’re ramping up our savings each month and we’re doing this whole thing our way. The best we can.

Notable Expenses This Month: The Story Our Money Tells:

This month, as I’ve looked back on the monthly budget, I was really struck with how money tells a story. And this month’s budget has some great stories:

$10 – The doctor copay for Florin who swallowed a quarter on our vacation. As soon as we returned, we got an X-ray to ensure it wasn’t stuck. Good news: no quarter was found, so it passed through safely (I never saw it in the toilet, but I did not try too hard to find it!).

$276 – Tickets to preview performances of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 & 2. This was an exhausting and exhilarating night. When I realized Mr. T and I would be in London already during the preview performances of this new play (and new story!) by J.K.Rowling, I signed up for priority registration. I had to click a button before 3AM Alaska time and then at 3AM, everyone that had clicked in was randomized into a queue. I was number 23,405. I dozed on the couch on and off until about 5:45 when it was nearly my turn! I managed to get the last seats for the preview performances we could attend. Talk about historic! Not only do we get to attend this brand new show before its official opening… we get to do it with gigantic Harry Potter geeks (we do love Harry Potter, but we’re not at “geek” level, I assure you). Remember that this cost includes four total tickets (tickets for Mr. T and I to both Part 1 and Part 2 which are on separate nights).

$65.13 – We left the state, and that means we got to fill a suitcase with our usual Trader Joe’s imports!

$56.50 –  Our most expensive dinner we have annually. Each year, we meet up with my sister and her family and go to this amazing Indian restaurant in the Midwest. We eat delicious food, lassies, and naan. For us Alaskans, $56.50 on such a delicious meal at a restaurant is considered a great deal! And we enjoy every bite!

$10 – Ice skate sharpening – I’m taking an ice skating class at the University on my company’s dime so that I have student access to the University library databases. Win win. I did, however, have to pay to get my ice skates sharpened. Also, I should mention I’m like the old lady in the class and I’m terrible. I haven’t even learned to stop yet. I’m that bad.

$3.50 – The squash I talked Florin into carving instead of a pumpkin.

$3.49 – Halloween candy.

$6.97 – Teeth and hair dye for the girls’ vampire princess Halloween costumes.

No extra income this month other than our $10,360 PFD.

Financial Phrases:

“He retired early. You know, something we all wish we could do! Somehow he managed to do it.”

“He told me with the raise I should start maxing out my 401k. We can’t afford that!”

“I’m hoping to get a raise, live on the same amount, and save the rest. But that’s hard.”

“Compensation is definitely a major factor in job satisfaction.”

What story did your expenses tell this month?



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  1. Hi Maggie. I saw this article and reminded me of you (sorry if there is a paywall) http://www.wsj.com/articles/alaska-weighs-curtailing-oil-tax-perk-1446427016

    My expenses were extremely low in October for me. This was due to working a ton, with some work travel, and therefore I didn’t pay for much food on my own and had little time to spend on personal things. Take care.

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks for the article share. Alaska is starting to face its own sort of recession. The state is not in good shape. It is fine if they could spend the Permanent Fund, but try to get the voters (every one of which is an investor because we all get the dividends) to approve that! It will be interesting to see how everything plays out up here.

  2. I love the idea of expenses telling stories. They really reveal our priorities, don’t they? Huge kudos to you for being able to boss the market around 😉 Woohoo!

  3. Maggie! You guys had such an excellent October. Way to put your PFDs to work, girl! 🙂 I absolutely love Personal Capital and it has been one of my favorite tools to use. I still feel like I haven’t used it to its fullest potential yet, but my favorite part is how much it breaks down my retirement accounts & investments.

    • MaggieBanks

      I know! October has motivated me even more to hustle! (Especially now that I get paid more!) And Personal Capital is awesome.

  4. Re: ice skating — I actually skated as a kid, and recently went rollerskating for a friend’s retro birthday party… crap, was it hard! I couldn’t believe how bad I was! So I feel for you, out there on the ice. 🙂

    The Harry Potter show will be so worth it! We saw Wicked in London a few years back, and the fact that it was in London made it so much more special. Plus you’ll get to make all of us actual Harry Potter geeks super jealous!

    Re: not feeling like you guys can save fast because of your incomes, I can’t remember highly enough How to Retire Early by Robert & Robin Charlton. They never broke 6 figures and still retired in their early 40s. (I’m actually interviewing them for a post on the blog, because I love their book that much.)

    • MaggieBanks

      awesome! Thanks for the book recommendation! I’ll pick it up if I can find it.

  5. Kim from Philadelphia

    What an awesome feeling to throw an extra $2k at your mortgage and still put money into savings. Gotta love those months!

    I’m still unemployed, however my new position starts in about a month. We’re keeping expenses super low. Time is s gift, so I’m taking advantage of it right now and making all meals at home, exercising at my $10 a month gym in days I can’t take a long walk or hike, reading books that we were previously gifted and/or take out from the library. I’m also working on a few minor home projects ( cosmetic, not structural, I’m not so talented!)

    • MaggieBanks

      Being unemployed with a job secured in the near future is somewhat awesome! You get a long, frugal vacation! But I’m sure that’s also stressful. Man, we’ve been there. 10 months in 2009 with no income. Enjoy the moment and good luck with the next. As always, thank you for the update! It’s so great to connect!

  6. Rue

    As an actual Harry Potter geek, I am. SO. envious you get to see the show!
    But I’m glad for you, I hope you enjoy it and then make sure to tell me how awesome it is. Remind me to start saving to go see it.
    My friends and I are going to see Cirque du Soleil this Christmas though, which has always been on my bucket list so I don’t feel too bad 😛
    Love the update post, it’s a nice glimpse at your life 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      I’m way more excited to see this play than I am letting on! 🙂 I’ll definitely give an awesome update on how it was. We also have a trip out to the Harry Potter studios planned for the trip as well! Should be an awesome, geeky trip! (Also… I plan to see a Tardis in London… but that’s another kind of geek…)

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